How Social Science Might Be Misunderstanding Conservatives

#1
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/201...tives.html

The above, fictional questionnaire is an extreme example, but a growing insurgency within social and political psychology has begun to argue, credibly, that a version of this has been going on for decades — only the other way around. Liberal psych researchers, centering their work on liberal values and political opinions, have built up a body of knowledge that is fundamentally flawed and biased. As a result, certain false ideas about conservatives and how they differ from liberals may have taken hold.

If these insurgents are correct, it’s the Rigidity of the Right model, as it’s called, that’s the epicenter of misunderstanding. The RR model posits, as one summary puts it, that “a constellation of psychological attributes and evocable states — including dogmatism, closed-mindedness, intolerance of ambiguity, preference for order and structure, aversion to novelty and stimulation, valuing of conformity and obedience, and relatively strong concern with threat — leads to a preference for right-wing over left-wing political ideology.”
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One of their strongest arguments concerns poorly constructed psychological instruments that don’t actually measure what they claim to measure. As they explain, “Scales treated as indicators of conservative vs. liberal ideology often contain content pertaining to religious sentiment, cognitive rigidity, orientation toward authority, and/or intolerance, in addition to (mostly cultural) political content.” That is, these scales in a sense assume that conservatives are more rigid or authoritarian or whatever else — the very thing they are used to test.
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(In fact, there was little difference between how conservatives scored on the original scale and the tweaked-to-be-more-explicitly-conservative version, lending credence to the claim that the original scale was biased in a direction that captured more conservative than liberal dogmatism.) “By making only small adjustments to a popularly used dogmatism scale, results show that liberals can be significantly more dogmatic if a liberal domain is made salient,” explained the authors.


One of the many reasons conservatives understand leftists far better than vice versa.
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#2
Piously unquestioning the preconditions and settings for working operation -- or standards and guidelines for interpretation of data -- as if they were found under a rock of nature rather than invented.

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