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Politics and Personal Beliefs

Politics and People

Political views and personal beliefs are closely intertwined.

Political views and personal beliefs are closely intertwined.

Personality and Politics

Personalities are complex, politics is complex. When you try to evaluate both, it gets no less complex.

Our personality affects much of how we communicate. This includes what we talk about and our views regarding politics. Our personality influences what we discuss politically, who we discuss it with, and how we persuade each other's views. Many research studies have correlated the Big Five Personality factors with our political party preferences.

The Big 5 personality factors, also known as Five Factor Model (FFM) describes five personality types that describes people's traits.

  • Openness tended to be liberals
  • Conscientiousness tended to be conservatives
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness does not have much to do with political beliefs
  • Neuroticism

Political attitudes may have inheritable factors that are connected to these basic personality traits. Yet the complexity of political beliefs come from a deeper need that connects to their ideological views.

Political beliefs serve several internal psychological motivational needs. Conservatives prefer to keep the status quo. This preference helps protect them against the uncertainty of change.

Conservatives and Liberals

Conservatives and liberals really do think differently.

Conservatives and liberals really do think differently.

How Does Our Personality Influence Our Political Views?

According to a psychologist in Columbus Ohio, at Ohio State University, named Richard Petty, there seems to be an aspect of our personality that predict the way we behave politically. It has to do with how a person formulates their opinions, and how they judge things. In the research done at the University, 3,000 participants were give two specific questions within a larger survey and kept track of their political views prior to and post elections of 1998 and 2000. They determined that a person's personality mattered in their political opinion.

Participants were rated on their ''need to evalutate" (ne). Those with a high ne, were more likely to vote and aligned themselves with either the Democratic or Republican party. They looked to gain information about current politics from the media, and would more than likely vote in the election, no matter what their age, gender, or income.

This type of information interests those who do political advertising to refine how they convey their advertising messages.

In another survey done at the University of Toronto, a correlation was made between the politics of a person and their personality. Empathy and equality were related to more liberal voters. Orderliness and confirming to social norms were associated more with conservative voters. Psychologically, conservative minded people tended to want to preserve the current social trends. People who had a balanced view for both order and equality, were shown to be more politically moderate. More than 600 people were part of the survey.. The participants were either classified as liberals or conservatives based on how they identified with each political party. By using a personality test, they were able to determine personality traits and how this related to their political preferences.

It is their behavior that undermined their psychological needs towards their particular political opinions. Political values run deeply within the core of a person, and do not come always come from a rational consideration of the situations at hand. Biology, heredity, morality, and personal values all play a role in a person's political view and in their personality as a whole.

Differences in Political Views

Political Issues and Personal Beliefs

Personality differences are not necessarily a good predictor of political differences. But in a German study, the researchers linked political views and personality types. Two out of the Big Five Factors seem to have a correlation to political preferences. Those who scored high on the Openness scale are the type of people who like to have new experiences, have a variety of interests, are thinkers, can look at the big picture and are imaginative tend to have more liberal views. Those who score high on the conscientiousness are more organized, use strategies, and are good at completing tasks competently tend to have a more conservative view. The German survey used the Myers-Brigs model over the Big Five and found that the Greens are more intuitive and perceiving and the Christian Democrats were more sensing and more judging.

Through research, it appears that there are indeed personality differences between politically conservative and liberal views.

In the United States, Americans voice their opinions about their views, causing tremendous acrimony in the way government and the laws should work when it comes to many things like gay marriage, abortion, health care, gun control, and a variety of other issues that are part of today’s society.

At the heart of all of this is each person’s personal beliefs and their deep seated personality differences. There are fundamental differences in moral values and perspective on many issues that come from a person’s upbringing, environment, experience, personality, and emotion driven logic. These differences lead to a disconnection between people, one that is not readily resolved.

Can You Change Someone's Political Beliefs

Political views are based on our internal belief system.

Political views are based on our internal belief system.

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Right and Wrong in Politics

Jonathan Haidt, formerly of the University of Virginia, and now a professor of NYU, studies about the emotions connected to morality and how their impact upon cultures and society. He came up with five fundamental moral factors that determine right and wrong within an individual’s belief. There are differences between different cultures and societies.

Determining factors whether something is moral or not:

  • Sensitive to fairness and avoidance of suffering, cruelty, and harm. They put
  • High value on compassion and kindness. Reciprocity, altruism, and cooperation
  • Doing what is good for the group including loyalty and a dislike towards betrayl among members of the group.
  • Respect for tradition, and authority.
  • Sanctity of religion and the human body.

These answers within these five factors greatly differ between conservatives and liberals, The lack of understanding each other’s moral views may make many of the issues they disagree about uncompromisable.

Sociologists are finding that the illogical thought processes on both sides dominate the political debate, rather than reality presiding over the issues at hand. There are many bias errors that people make. Often they have an opinion, and then find facts that support their beliefs, instead of looking at the evidence at hand and evaluating its meaning, and forming an educated conclusion.

This is known by political psychologists as motivated reasoning. Motivated reasoning is also known as backward reasoning. We start out with a conclusion and selectively choose information that will support this conclusion. We make a justification for our reasoning.

It can be applied to all things, political or not. For example, if you don’t like someone, even if you find out they did something positive, it still will not make you like them more. It is not a form of rational thinking, but we human beings are complicated creatures and we don’t want to let our beliefs go even if we find out contradictory information. So in politics, a leader in essence, can never really do any good in the eyes of those who never liked them in the first place.

We become very invested in our beliefs and new information is not motivation enough to let our beliefs go. We prefer to reason away the data that counters our belief, rather than changing what we think. Our emotions influence the facts we take in.

Emotions and Thoughts

We feel before we think.

We feel before we think.

Logic, Rationalization and Politics

If politics were objective, there would be rational arguments made that could support or oppose the changes. We would each listen and make our judgments based on the facts and information we learn about. Because beliefs are such a deep part of each of us, we don’t readily let these beliefs go. This deep attachment is an emotional one and becomes ingrained in our personalities, our self identity, and our morality. It does not matter what the facts are, if the information doesn't fit our beliefs, we have no place to put it, and we discard the data.

None of us are comfortable relinquishing our sense of personal and social essence of who we are. We also need to belong to a group and fit in to the community we are part of. Partisan views are a way of defending our sense of self, and protecting our need to be part of something. In cases like this, free speech, and freedom of the press don’t make people listen more to the opposing side.

It is common for individuals to ignore information that may contradict their view, by discounting it, or disagreeing with it so that they can maintain their existing beliefs. Facts have no meaning, if they don’t match their deep seated beliefs.

Sometimes people can be influenced to change their minds, but it would require a great deal of data, or information that comes from someone that are beliefs are attached to. Feelings dominate. It is easier for us to accept evidence that backs up what we already believe, than to take in the contradictory information and have that change our minds.

We feel before we think. Logic and reason are not the main way we form our opinions.

There can’t be any solution to the moral differences in politics because the beliefs are part of thinking errors, or a biased perception of facts. It comes from the way we interpret the facts, or ignore the information that does not fit. What might be simplified as right and wrong moral issues, are sometimes altered realities stemming from false thinking and deeply instilled beliefs. We process information subjectively to support our ideology, which ends up becoming expressed as different perceptions.

Political disagreements are demonstrations of the way people view the world in vey different ways. To complicate the issues, the beliefs are tied to our emotions. When emotional ties are at play, arguments can get very heated. Our convictions are at stake, which are part of our security, our purposefulness, our feeling of assurance, and our identity. This leads little room for any of us to settle our political differences.


Saxuary on June 11, 2014:

I am always stumped by how people believe that either of these two parties will somehow favor them. For goodness sakes, they have done nothing to improve the lives of the majority of people since I was born. Every check ever cashed was spent on wealthy people first with incidental intent on anyone who got lucky. The entire financial system is a Ponzi scheme executed and always won buy the house. All your politicians are chosen, financed and will meet the needs of the buyer. None of those are average ordinary citizens. They do not need your recognition or money, just your vote of two whole choices in most elections. If you checked the record these two parties are the greatest failures in history. In financial terms if it was a company they would all be in jail for improper book keeping. If everyone decided not to vote for these two parties we would all be better off. Still we argue like there is some point to be made. Hate the next elected official is what people seem to do and then they pretend that its the other guys fault. The last one gave you wars and a recession that was in the making for over a decade. To claim one party was responsible is absurd, about as absurd as claiming no one had a clue it was about to happen. In all of this do you remember voting for it? Did you vote for the recession, were you tired of your 401k growing? That is why I am in favor of deregulation. I like it when people take my money to Vegas and lose it all and still get to live like a millionaire with a bonus included. Its all deliberate just to keep you serfs working and with every wage increase the cost of living is sure to go up. We got a few decades until they reset the market again, ask my dead grand parents it always repeats its self. Our children with no representation and no power to better their lives will be here for the next con.

toknowinfo (author) on March 31, 2013:

Lol Breakfast Pop. It is nice to see you again.

breakfastpop on March 31, 2013:

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Thank you for this very interesting hub.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 31, 2013:

Politics and Personal Beliefs, are such debate topics that discussing amng family and friends can ruin things.

toknowinfo (author) on March 31, 2013:

Hi People, I am glad you enjoyed my hub and appreciate you sharing your thoughts. It is not just our political opinions that we formulate and then look for evidence support it, we do this will all our deeply held beliefs. The thing I find interesting is that when we see hotly debated issues, people are really giving us a view of their ingrained beliefs and possibly a clearer view of themselves than most anything else they could say or do. Thanks for your up votes and for sharing.

toknowinfo (author) on March 31, 2013:

Hi Anahita, Thanks for adding your valuable comments.

toknowinfo (author) on March 31, 2013:

Hi Bill, I am glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

toknowinfo (author) on March 31, 2013:

Hi Carol, I think it is fascinating to look at the personalities behind the passions of political opinions. I am glad you stopped by and commented.

Mike Russo from Placentia California on March 30, 2013:

Wow!, I see you have done your research. I too read Johnathan Haidt's book on Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. I think you are right in saying that we form our political opinions first and then look for evidence to support them instead of looking for facts and then forming an unbiased conclusion. I think because it is based on deep seated survival needs, it makes it very difficult for us to be objective. We would have to be more like a computer without emotions. Thanks for writing this. Voting up, useful, and sharing.

Anahita from Toronto on March 30, 2013:

I agree! I find my most heated debates revolve around politics and religion/spirituality. Great hub!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 30, 2013:

That was really fascinating. Thank you for this hub. It really helps in understanding the range of emotions when people are discussing politics. Excellent read.

carol stanley from Arizona on March 30, 2013:

Interesting views on politics and personalities. I agree with most of what you have written. You did a complete job and also very interesting.

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