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Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?

In this experiment, the researchers were studying the relationship between political orientation and the general well-being of the people. They wanted to determine how being affiliated with a particular political party influences one’s general being and happiness (Napier & Jost, 2008). The researchers studied people’s happiness concerning their political affiliation by conducting interviews and analyzing the data they collected from various sources to make their inferences. The experiment was conducted in three studies. The first study investigated demographic factors, differences in need, and the rationalization of inequality. The second study involved analyzing data on life satisfaction and self-reported happiness from 10 countries. In the third study, the researchers used macroeconomic data to measure the level of inequality and determine the happiness gap between conservatives and liberals. The research was inspired by various headlines worldwide that raised a public opinion survey on the relationship between political orientation and happiness. Researchers from Pew Research Centre concluded that 47% of conservative Republicans were very happy while only 28% of liberal Democrats felt happy. Therefore, the researchers were investigating the relationship between political orientation and people’s general happiness. They attempted to prove the various reasons as to why conservatives were considered to be happier than liberals by including more details than researchers from Pew. Their experiment included demographic differences such as income, education, marital status, age, and religious affiliation between conservatives and liberals (Napier & Jost, 2008).

In the first study, the participants were only required to respond to a few questions concerning their ideology, whether liberal or conservative and their party affiliation, whether Democrat or Republican. The participants who were contacted by telephone or interviewed in person were required to fill in their responses on a scale ranging from one for strong liberal Democrats to seven for strong conservative Republicans (Napier & Jost, 2008). In the second study, the participants were required to rate how satisfied they were with their lives on a scale ranging from one for not satisfied at all to ten for very satisfied. The analysis data was obtained from the General Social Survey (GSS) collected from the previous years in the third study. The participants had to indicate their own level of happiness on a scale ranging from one for not happy at all to ten for very happy. I would have been interested in participating in this experiment since its objectives were formal and interesting. I would also have participated since I would be interested in finding out the results as it would help me see the relationship between happiness and political affiliation, among other things. In addition, the interview was relatively short, and the researchers did not ask any personal questions.

The study concluded that conservatives were happier than liberals. The hypothesis, which sought to determine why conservatives were happier than liberals, was supported as various findings were made from the research. Firstly, there was a significant influence of political alignment on life gratification. The difference between conservatives and liberals was described by the conservatives’ strong inclinations to justify economic disparity. In addition, there was greater happiness and contentment by conservatives in countries where general life quality is low (Napier & Jost, 2008). Moreover, the research found that happiness was inversely proportional to economic inequality. Therefore, a decrease in inequality created a larger decrease in happiness among liberals than conservatives; thus, conservatives were happier at all times. Furthermore, the research suggested that inequality has a greater psychological burden on liberals than on conservatives. This was because liberals lack ideological justification to help them perceive inequality in a positive or neutral way. This helped explain why the negative perception between happiness and equality was stronger and Europe than in the United States of America. The US inclination to meritocratic ideology rendered economic inequality less aggressive to the Americans than to the Europeans (Napier & Jost, 2008).

The findings were important to me as they helped me understand how various instincts such as political affiliation relate to happiness. The findings also helped perceive demographic factors such as income, economic status, and age in a different way when relating them to psychological factors like happiness. Finally, the findings relate to my own life in that my happiness could be affected by my political orientation. Moreover, depending on my political affiliations on whether I support Democrats or Republicans, inequality in society would affect my happiness and general well-being.

The experiment was conducted in a logical manner as it was formal and included well-done research. However, there were certain flaws in the methodology. First, the researchers called the participants by telephone instead of face-to-face interviews for all participants. Moreover, the researchers did not collect enough data for the experiment. If I had been the researcher, I would have conducted the research differently by having the participants in a face-to-face interview. This would have brought more insights to the experiment through the participants’ reactions without the limitation of time. Moreover, I would have asked the participants whether their political affiliations affected them psychologically in terms of affecting their happiness or general well-being. This would have been crucial in determining whether the experiment would have any implications for them when making the conclusions.

The article brought various ideas to my mind. First, I felt that psychology can be a broad topic and can be applied in any scenario to explain complex things. This is important as it broadened my mind in that I could find solutions to hidden concepts in society. In addition, the article brought the idea of applying psychological studies to determine which candidate is likely to win during the general elections. This can be done by comparing their ideologies with the perceptions of the voters to determine which side the majority will vote for during elections. Moreover, I felt the idea of using psychology to solve the problem of inequality perception among the liberals to improve their happiness. Happiness is a psychological aspect of human life that can be shifted by changing one’s mindset. If one removed the inequality barrier among liberals, it would improve their happiness levels, and therefore their lives would be more productive. This research triggers certain thoughts about my future studies. Firstly, I thought about performing similar research to find out how the conservatives or the liberals felt when the elected president came from each one’s opposite political affiliation. This would be important in determining how happy the citizens were during a president’s five or ten-year reign from their opposing political party. Moreover, I thought about the idea of research to find out how much hatred voters from each political party disliked each other. This would be a good indicator of the general happiness of the citizens when a leader from the opposing side takes office.


Napier, J. L., & Jost, J. T. (2008). Why are conservatives happier than liberals?. Psychological Science19(6), 565-572.


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