Yes, you read it right. It turns out that conservatives are not psychotic – liberals are. They are the real authoritarians out there.
The American Journal of Political Science published a study claiming that conservatives are more likely to have more “psychotic” traits than liberals. However, they were forced to publish a correction stating that they made an error and that liberals are actually the ones whose traits are associated with psychoticism.
“The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed,” it said in the correction of the journal.
“The descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.”
The paper said that psychoticism is usually associated with traits such as authoritarianism, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, risk-taking, and tough-mindedness.
On the other hand, the social-desirability scare takes into account people’s tendency to answer the questions in a way that they think they would please the researchers. This means sometimes they underestimate their negative characteristics and overestimate the positive ones.
“I don’t know where it happened. All I know is it happened. It’s our fault for not figuring it out before,” said Brad Verhulst, a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher and the co-author of the paper.
However, the error did not change the fundamental finding of the paper, and that is that personality traits do not cause people to develop certain political attitudes and beliefs.
Finally, Steven Ludeke, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark, said that the errors, in fact, do matter a lot.
“The erroneous results represented some of the larger correlations between personality and politics ever reported; they were reported and interpreted, repeatedly, in the wrong direction,” he said.
What do you think about this?
Image: John Rudoff
Mary Wright is a professional writer with more than 10 years of incessant practice. Her topics of interest gravitate around the fields of the human mind and the interpersonal relationships of people.