Battlepanda: Born Republican?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Born Republican?

Uh-oh, this one might be growing up Republican
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.[snip]

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.
Of course, the conservatives are crying foul.
"I found it to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best," [Jeff Greenberg of University of Arizona] 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.
That's funny, because I think Greenberg's objection completely misses the most vulnerable aspect of Block's work -- that all his test subjects come from Berkley, an anomalously liberal part of the nation. I would think that if the correlation Block documents is real, the most likely hypothesis that disprove Block's is that the disaffected, whiny kids in any given group are likely to gravitate to an ideology that is opposite to the dominant culture. Since Block only studied Berkley where liberalism is dominant, there is a possiblity that whiny children in, say, Greensboro, North Carolina or Houston, Texas end up rejecting conservatism and end up liberals instead. I would invite conservative critics to do their own 20-year study in a conservative town to try and prove Block wrong.

Until then, the Party of Whiny Babies it is.