Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional.

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. How to spot a baby conservative
    KID POLITICS | Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional. Future liberals, on the other hand ...
    Mar. 19, 2006. 10:45 AM
    KURT KLEINER
    SPECIAL TO THE STAR

    Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

    At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

    The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

    But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

    A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

    The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

    Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

    In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives.

    Of course, if you're studying the psychology of politics, you shouldn't be surprised to get a political reaction. Similar work by John T. Jost of Stanford and colleagues in 2003 drew a political backlash. The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism. Critics branded it the "conservatives are crazy" study and accused the authors of a political bias.

    Jost welcomed the new study, saying it lends support to his conclusions. But Jeff Greenberg, a social psychologist at the University of Arizona who was critical of Jost's study, was less impressed.

    `I found (the Jack Block study) to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best'

    "I found it to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best," he said of the Block study. He thinks insecure, defensive, rigid people can as easily gravitate to left-wing ideologies as right-wing ones. He suspects that in Communist China, those kinds of people would likely become fervid party members.

    The results do raise some obvious questions. Are nursery school teachers in the conservative heartland cursed with classes filled with little proto-conservative whiners?

    Or does an insecure little boy raised in Idaho or Alberta surrounded by conservatives turn instead to liberalism?

    Or do the whiny kids grow up conservative along with the majority of their more confident peers, while only the kids with poor impulse control turn liberal?

    Part of the answer is that personality is not the only factor that determines political leanings. For instance, there was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. Another way of saying it is that self-reliance predicts statistically about 7 per cent of the variance between kids who became liberal and those who became conservative. (If every self-reliant kid became a liberal and none became conservatives, it would predict 100 per cent of the variance). Seven per cent is fairly strong for social science, but it still leaves an awful lot of room for other influences, such as friends, family, education, personal experience and plain old intellect.

    For conservatives whose feelings are still hurt, there is a more flattering way for them to look at the results. Even if they really did tend to be insecure complainers as kids, they might simply have recognized that the world is a scary, unfair place.

    Their grown-up conclusion that the safest thing is to stick to tradition could well be the right one. As for their "rigidity," maybe that's just moral certainty.

    The grown-up liberal men, on the other hand, with their introspection and recognition of complexity in the world, could be seen as self-indulgent and ineffectual.

    Whether anyone's feelings are hurt or not, the work suggests that personality and emotions play a bigger role in our political leanings than we think. All of us, liberal or conservative, feel as though we've reached our political opinions by carefully weighing the evidence and exercising our best judgment. But it could be that all of that careful reasoning is just after-the-fact self-justification. What if personality forms our political outlook, with reason coming along behind, rationalizing after the fact?

    It could be that whom we vote for has less to do with our judgments about tax policy or free trade or health care, and more with the personalities we've been stuck with since we were kids.

    Kurt Kleiner is a Toronto-based freelance science writer.

    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Co...le&cid=1142722231554&call_pageid=971358637177
     
  2. It's funny when you think about it. As children the conservatives act whiny and then grow out of it, while liberal kids start out confident and then turn in to whiny little children the more they grow up.

    Probably has to do with the fact that as liberals get older they are less secure because they find themselves fighting for causes that seemed to make sense as a child, but then they grow up and realize that the reality of the situation is much different.

    Personally I would rather be a child that was whiny and grew out of it than a grown up cry baby. That's just me.
     
  3. Another ace post by ZZZreszzzz. Only the most naive libs would take that article serious. There's maybe 5 on this site that would allow this nonsense to somehow influence their political views. They may or may not twist it to the point where they'll actually start believing junk like this... we can only hope our society isn't that far gone.
     
  4. Don't worry Lucas, I was a liberal in my teens and twenties. Gradually came to understand the real world and turned conservative.

    After joining ET and reading the posts of the leftwing core here I moved another step to the right.
     
  5. Feeling a bit defensive after your 25th whiny Feedback post about your abuse at the hands of Z10 and ET staff?
     
  6. Same here. Had liberal parents and went with them until I became interested in politics and saw both sides of the story.
     
  7. 94 kids the test was taken on. you could not even make a statiscally valid conclusion for a country with 290million population based on 94 kids from the same town. ZZZZZzzzz; its useless people like you for creating a divided country, just bringing up useless shit all day. Someone should follow you around with a camera and have the daily Z report.
     
  8. self- righteous people tend to be on both extremes. That kid in the back that stuck crayons up his nose and ate paint chips could grow into a hyper ET poster and a knee jerk left winger.
     
  9. Stop whining, are you one of those 94 kids?

    Oh, so that's Z10 who's dividing the country. I naively thought it was the president who lost the popular vote the first time, was elected with the smallest margin the second time and yet instead of governing from the center has been pushing the most extreme right-wing, conservative, divisive agenda. Thank you for opening my eyes, now I know - Bush is a uniter, Z10 is a divider.
     
  10. Well, he's a conservative that doesn't recognize his own whininess, but he likes to play "pretend" vigilante. A real tough guy :D
     
    #10     Mar 20, 2006