Fear and Love are the main drivers for all human behaviour, and this fact is accurate for every person that has ever lived, but we differ greatly in how we believe to best achieve this.
We all have a mix of conservative and liberal views, we are positioned along a continuum which as liberal values at one end, and conservative views at the other. We appear along this continuum at different points from one another and also from ourselves with reference to different subjects, topics at at different time and in different situations.
I lean towards stability and responsibility in some situations while favoring innovation and a more carefree attitude in others. I feel reassured by politicians and celebrities that I am familiar with, and that I trust (there aren’t many of those to be honest), but also embrace change and uncertainty at times.
Conservative values come from beliefs that resist CHANGE, and carry the narrative that change equals uncertainty, risk, threat, and/or danger. Those with Conservative values that feel under threat crave the reassurance of something and someone familiar.
Research shows that people who identify as having liberal values often display conservative tendencies when they feel threatened, and those that classify themselves as conservatives display liberal tendencies when they feel less inhibited.
I was recently researching Simon Baron-Cohen’s hypothesis Empathising-Systemising theory, which suggests that people may be classified on the basis of their scores along two dimensions: empathising and systemising.
It supposedly measures a person’s strength of interest in empathy (the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions) and a person’s strength of interest in systems (in terms of the drive to analyse or construct them).
Well I consider systemising to be a conservatively based trait. The need to take things apart and figure out how they work, and to organise processes into routines, that are easy to understand and follow, I hypothesis, come from a desire to make us feel less threatened by our environment and more in control of our destiny.
Empathising could also be considered fear based trait, but its an alternative strategy to achieve the same thing as systemising, but in a more inclusive way. It could also be perceived as a way to spiritually connect with others, to get outside of ourselves. Empathisers figure that understanding others makes them less vulnerable to the world. It’s the same desire as the conservative, but employs a completely different strategy to achieve it.
Now let’s consider the diffusion of innovation bell. This attempts to explain why some people embrace innovation quicker than others. At one end of the scale you have the Early Adaptors and at the other, Laggards.
So why do Laggards resist change, because they crave the status quo, they like to keep things the same, because they fear change, which is a conservative trait. On the other hand Early Adapters focus on the new thing because it brings with it opportunities rather than risk and danger, which is a liberal trait.
So while you might consider yourself coming from a more conservative or liberal mindset, the underlying desire for pleasure and need to avoid pain are the same in everyone. We are more similar than we are different. We love and fear in the same way, but our beliefs shape our strategies for navigating the world so that we avoid pain and find pleasure.
We should embrace different views because they open our minds, and give us ideas for alternative strategies for achieving the same goals.
Until next time..