Knowing The Difference Between A Liberal And A Conservative!

liberal conservativeby Rev. Dr. Henry Vernon
As we move forward into the year 2016 we need to prepare ourselves for the vote that is quickly coming up. A part of this preparation is knowing the difference between Liberalism and Conservatism. It is my hope that the following information will help to guide you into making the right decision when voting.

Disputes between those holding differing political views are ubiquitous (everywhere) and deep-seated,

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and they often follow common, recognizable lines.

The supporters of tradition and stability, sometimes referred to as conservatives, do battle with the supporters of innovation and reform, sometimes referred to as liberals. Understanding the correlates of those distinct political orientations is probably a prerequisite for managing political disputes, which are a source of social conflict that can lead to frustration and even bloodshed.

A rapidly growing body of empirical (observed) evidence documents a multitude of ways in which liberals and conservatives differ from each other in purviews (the range of operation, authority, control, and concern) of life with little direct connection to politics, from tastes in art to desire for closure and from disgust sensitivity to the tendency to pursue new information, but the central theme of the differences is a matter of debate.

In this article, we argue that one organizing element of the many differences between liberals and conservatives is the nature of their physiological and psychological responses to features of the environment that are negative. Compared with liberals, conservatives tend to register greater physiological responses to such stimuli and also to devote more psychological resources to them. Operating from this point of departure, we suggest approaches for refining understanding of the broad relationship between political views and response to the negative. We conclude with a discussion of normative implications, stressing that identifying differences across ideological groups is not tantamount [the same as or equal] to declaring one ideology superior to another.

Most countries have a political spectrum that divides along conservative vs. liberal lines. In the US, it's the Republicans vs. the Democrats; in the UK, it's the Tories vs. the Laborites; in Game of Thrones, it's King's Landing vs. Winterfell, and so on.

Now, some recent research1 helps us understand what underlies the differences between the two political attitudes, besides, as my uncle who used to argue politics with me would say, my sensible point of view and your sheer cussedness (annoyingness). It turns out that we all have something called a negativity bias. That means that we react more or less strongly to negative things like maggots or festering wounds or other people's points of view.

Here's how it works. If you're a conservative, you're likely to have a stronger negativity bias. Nasty things upset you more. If you're a liberal, you have a weaker negativity bias. Nasty things still upset you, just not as much. Your negativity bias pretty closely tracks your political views.

As one of the authors of the study, John Hibbing, noted, "Conservatives are fond of saying 'liberals just don't get it,' and liberals are convinced that conservatives magnify threats. . . . Both are correct."

What does this have to do with public speaking? Speakers need to know their audiences, as I often say, better than they know themselves. In this case, knowing the political makeup of your audience will help you understand how to make your case. If your audience is mostly conservative, it will respond more strongly to negative examples. If your audience is mostly liberal, it will respond more strongly to positive examples. If it's a mixture of both, God help you – and use both.

I suspect the opportunities go a little deeper, as well. As regular readers of this FB page will know, I strongly advocate storytelling as a way to communicate effectively with your audiences – for a whole host of reasons. And I talk about the five basic stories that you can tell in order to give your stories structure and power. Don't try to invent a new story, in other words – use one of the tried-and-true stories that have captivated people for millennia: the Quest, Stranger in a Strange Land, Rags to Riches, Revenge, and Love Story.

What this new research suggests is that Quests and Love Stories will probably work best on liberal audiences, because the format of the story is inherently more positive. And on the other hand, Stranger in a Strange Land stories and Revenge tales will work best on conservative audiences, for opposite reasons.

Of course Quest stories and Love Stories can be filled with icky things and dark moments – just as Stranger and Revenge tales can be treated lightly. But a successful Quest, like a happy Love Story, is apt to be positive, while even successful Strange Land and Revenge stories will probably have darker elements.

So know your audiences, and pick your stories and examples accordingly, to hold their interest best. Your Political Action Group will thank you, and your opponents will be appalled.
References:
1. http://www.psych.nyu.edu/vanbavel/lab/documents/talt.etal.2014.BBS.pdf

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Keep Believing,
Dr. "V"
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