Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Today's Insight into Partisan Differences

Conservatives are especially likely to want dogs that are loyal and obedient.

--from the research of Jonathan Haidt


G. Verloren said...

A craving for control, and by extension for power, is a quality all humans possess to some degree. But it is a quality which - when present to any degree of excess, or when treated as acceptable or even desireable in individuals - I will always be innately suspicious of.

Conservatism, at its core, is about minimizing change. But change is inevitable, and resisting change comes with certain costs which historically have been at the expense of the powerless, for the benefit of the powerful.

Liberalism, in contrast, is ultimately about maximizing our capacity to accept change as it occurs - to be flexible in our thinking, whether that be to find new ways of doing things, or to rediscover old disused ones that suit our current needs.

It is a philosophy of constant questioning - of constant scrutiny and doubt, particularly of oneself and of comfortable biases and mental blindspots. It champions using the right tools for the right jobs, but with the understanding that tools that worked previously may not always work in the future, and may require adjustment or even replacement. It takes as little for granted as possible, and demands of us curiosity, flexibility, ingenuity, and humility - perhaps our greatest qualities as a species.

G. Verloren said...

Now, as for the matter of dogs, I think everyone would concede that loyalty and obedience are desireable traits for such animals, given the nature of their relationship with humanity and the needs said relationship places upon them.

So what does a marked preference for these qualities in such animals actually mean? Does it mean that conservatives are less likely to adopt untrained dogs from the pound? Does it mean liberals are more likely to be willing to take in "problem animals" which will require more time and effort to successfully "reform" through training?

Unfortunately, the linked article doesn't say. In fact, the linked article doesn't even explain what it means by "Conservatives are especially likely to want dogs that are loyal and obedient", because what the study actually measured is preference for dog breed.

That could map out in entirely different ways. It might be that conservatives simply prefer the most familiar and common breeds - which, quite naturally, are the one's with the best reputations for good behavior and ease of care and training. The preference for such breeds might not be because of their possessing those particular qualities, but rather because such breeds are "traditional" or "tried and true".

For example: a labrador is a "loyal" and "obedient" dog, but it's also a comfortably familiar and accepted breed, as well as fairly simple to care for. In contrast, Great Danes and St. Bernards are every bit as loyal and obedient, but not only are they somewhat more unusual and even a bit "foreign" to most Americans, but they're also very large breeds and require special accommodations. That alone might be enough to drive down their popularity among those of a more conservative mindset.