Blog of Sara Jakša

Politics, Emotions and Personality

Ever since we had the parliamentary elections here in Slovenia, I have been thinking, reading and in some cases discussing the politics with other people. The main reason behind this was to understand, why did I vote the way I did and to figure out, what is the difference between me and the people that voted differently than me. For example, even though I have voted right-wing option, most of my classmates, that I talked to, seems to support the left-wing options. On the other hand, change the mayor of people from cognitive science to mechanical engineering, and most people there voted the same way I did.

So far, I have not found the clear connection between the natural and social sciences and the voting patterns. There are some articles, that point out the problem of social sciences are so left-wing, that the people having different political leanings feel excluded. The economics, the mayor I originally come from, is a bit more diverse, but there are still more left-leaning people than others. It is just, that instead of being 10:1 or even 20:1 ratio, it is more like 4:1 ratio. I cannot remember right now ever reading the study made on the natural science researchers, like mathematicians, computer sciences or engineers.

My hypothesis is, that it is in connection to the care pillar of the moral foundations. The left-leaning people have this a lot higher than the right-leaning people. And when put this together with the empathizing–systemizing theory, it might explain it a bit. People that are high on empathizing are more likely to lean in the direction dealing with people, which in the academia would mean social sciences and humanities. While people which are high on systemizing are more likely to go in the STEM direction, since they prefer dealing with things and systems. Men are on average higher on systemizing and women are on average higher on empathizing. Women are also, on average, higher on objective tasks dealing with recognizing emotions. And they are higher on agreeableness. So, this part might make them more likely to put a higher value on the caring of other people.

Which is interesting, because left-wing is normally connected to openness dimension of the Big Five, not the agreeableness.

The other interesting connection is between the conscientiousness, disgust and right-wing leanings. People higher on disgust then to be more right-wing. This can be disgust at touching something, well disgusting, or just moral disgust, like for example at the person who would eat a chicken, after using it for masturbation.

But people higher on conscientiousness are also higher on disgust. These are the people that are more orderly and more hard working. The conscientiousness seems to be connected with the circuit in the prefrontal cortex responsible for the inhibition. So, they have an easier time to delay the immediate reward for a longer long-term reward. If this reminds anybody of the marshmallow experiment, don't worry, it reminds me of it as well.

And conscientiousness seems to be connected to the right-leaning political opinions and behaviors as well.

Why this is like that, I am not entirely sure yet. And how would inhibition and disgust be connected to having the opinion that are more right-leaning? I mean, there are some possible connections, like people that are better at postponing rewards would not see as much point in the government support for the people that are more careless. And the disgust can be connected to being less open to experiencing new people, so there could be the connection with the immigration policies. But there are so many other aspects, so I am not sure, if an ad-hoc explanation like that would suffice.

But there is, at least for me, even more interesting question. What does the inhibition have in common with disgust? In what circumstances would these two be connected? The only place that I had seen them connected are in the NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques. But since these techniques never worked on me, I just kind of ignored them. Maybe I should not dismiss them as quickly? But otherwise, I don't really see the connection. Which I guess it is what makes it more interesting.