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Whiny Conservatives, Happy Liberals

14

Get ready for it. Don your battle armor. The flaming is about to begin. A careful personality study of 95 children from the Berkeley area, tracking them from nursery school to adulthood over 20 years, concludes that “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” typically grew up to be a conservative, while the “confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.”

According to the article:

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.

The study’s author “reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.”

Two points come to mind on a cursory reading of this: Berkeley is hardly typical of the country as a whole, and perhaps the reaction that’s being uncovered here is between fitting in to the dominant local culture and gravitating to an alternative. The second is that one’s early 20s is not necessarily a stopping point in personal growth — though it seems to be for a lot of people. But it’s not like you’re frozen in place for life at the moment of college graduation.