Is Political Conservatism a Mild Form of Insanity?

Published on September 6, 2008 by William Todd Schultz, Ph.D. in Genius and Madness, in Psychology Today

A few years ago I was standing on the deck of a beach house on the 4th of July and a person who had obviously drunk too much told me, “The secret of my life is that I always need someone to hate.”

I was reminded of this exchange while watching the stupendously ruthless Republican National Convention over the last several days. Is there anything that conservatives do not hate? Maybe drilling. In fact, they appear utterly phallically obsessed with drilling (a practice that, in about 10 years or so, might reduce gas prices by 2 or 3 cents per gallon). But otherwise, what we learned from the recent hatefest is that Republicans hate community organizers, liberals (surprise!), Madonna, the “east coast elite,” the “angry left” media, trial lawyers, people who are too smart, people who are “cosmopolitan”—the list goes on into eternity.

Listening to this litany on Wednesday night in particular reminded me of a research article that came out roughly 5 years ago on political conservatism and motivated social cognition (Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski & Sulloway, “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” Psychological Bulletin). In a nutshell, the article—by Stanford and UC Berkeley researchers—seems to suggest that conservatism is a mild form of insanity.

Read more at Psychology Today