Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?
By Jaime L. Napier and John T. Jost
I commented briefly on the study bearing the title above yesterday (See here) but I thought a few more comments showing what rubbish it is might be in order. It is of course an attempt to show that conservatives are happy for discreditable reasons.
They started out in their study 1 conflating ideology and party preference. They found that rating yourself as conservative and as a Republican were "highly correlated". But that is nonsense. Lots of conservatives think that the GOP is comprised mainly of weak-kneed compromisers etc. And the study data actually showed that. The correlation between the two variables was .46, which meant that the two variables had only a quarter overlap (shared variance). But Napier & Co simply added scores on the two variables up, to create an artificial conservatism score, when the two variables should clearly have been treated separately
And it gets worse. They found that the correlation between conservatism and happiness could be accounted for by "rationalization of inequality". So how do they measure rationalization of inequality? By the mean of responses to six antiegalitarianism items, e.g. "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are").
But equality is the great mantra of the Left. Conservatives think it is unattainable and undesirable nonsense. So it is no wonder that a measure of it correlated (negatively) with conservatism. It is itself a (negative) measure of conservatism. So what Napier & Co did was remove the influence of one measure of conservatism from the influence of another measure of conservatism! What sense does that make? None that I can see. Doing so certainly explains nothing. So much for their Study 1.
There are other criticisms that I could make but while I have the energy, let me go on to their study 2. The big finding there was that conservatives "endorsed meritocracy". But how was that measured?
Endorsement of meritocracy was measured with a single item; participants rated their beliefs on a scale ranging from 1 (hard work doesn’t generally bring success—it’s more a matter of luck) to 10 (in the long run, hard work usually brings a better life)
I would have thought that the question endorsed hard work rather than "meritocracy"! What a simpleton I must be. I would have thought that to support meritocracy, you would be saying things like: "Only highly educated people should have the vote". So once again Napier & Co draw extravagant inferences from their very limited data. Far from being meritocratic, conservatives simply believe in the virtue of hard work. Is that any surprise or any disgrace? Not as far as I can see.
I will leave my criticisms there, not because there are no more to make but instead because it is rather boring to flog a dead horse.