Convoluted Conservative-Mindedness

The conservative-minded are a unique species with their high conscientiousness, thick boundaries, love of orderliness, and narrow focus; weakness for authority, submission to fear, and disgust toward impurity. They have a preference for the known, certain, familiar, and acceptable; although with an odd relationship to the larger world — their literalist beliefs often set against scientific facts and their simplistic nostalgia often set against any genuine historical accounting. That is a quick summary from a biased liberal perspective, but this isn’t far from their own self-descriptions.

From a study in 1980, conservative (and presumably W.E.I.R.D.) high school students “regarded themselves as more conventional, responsible, dependable, orderly, neat, organized, successful, and ambitious.” No doubt this self-assessment is fairly accurate, as many studies have shown in comparing conservatives with liberals. The trait conscientiousness is the hinge upon which the conservative mind swings, combined with the trait openness being locked down. When considered in the fuller context, this disposition can lead to mixed results as demonstrated by the sometimes convoluted thinking of the conservative mind. If there isn’t a rule, norm, guideline, direction, law, protocol, or authority to tell them what to do and not to do, the strongly conservative-minded can become confused and frozen in inaction. Helpless as little children.

The liberal, on the other hand, gets in trouble for not simply doing what told or expected to do with very real consequences such as higher rates of addiction. Because the law says not to use an addictive drug that might be all the more reason to try drugs to find out for oneself — Nancy Reagan’s message “Just Say No” sounds like a challenge. It’s similar to why, shortly after my mother told me as a child to not stick anything in outlets, I stuck a paperclip into an outlet. It was a shocking lesson about electricity that forever emblazoned on my young psyche the wisdom of maternal authority, not that it caused my foolhardy liberal personality to be any more obedient. This might explain why I’m such a liberal loser for surely I’d be more successful in life if I just could do what I was told.

Liberals learn from experience and sometimes suffer and die from experience. But at least liberals are more likely figure it out for themselves and maybe discover something new in the process. Not helpless children, although one might see high openness and low conscientiousness as being differently abled. Anyway, it’s more fun and exciting to learn through experience. When my young nephew asked my brother if he could shove a matchbox car up his butt, I like to think my nephew was just being a good liberal trying to think outside the box. It is a valid question he asked. When you start to think about it, there are all kinds of places a matchbox car could be shoved, limited only by the openness of one’s imagination. And who knows what might happen until you try. After all, speaking of butts, as Sarah Silverman asked, how is “the next milk” supposed to be discovered?

Conservatives simply take things on faith and act accordingly. They are less likely to do illegal drugs because they are illegal. They are less likely to stick something into an outlet (or into their butt) when told not to by a parent. Such thoughts would likely never cross their minds in the first place. They will be good citizens, good workers, good Christians, good Nazis, or whatever else is upheld by social norms. High conscientious conservatives will be effective and efficient, industrious and hard-working, ambitious and successful… that is within the constraints of the social order. Outside of those constraints, though, they are lost sheep looking for the herd.

At times, there can be a refreshing directness to conservative thought. But that isn’t always the case. Because of reactionary tendencies, the conservative mind can wind around in strange machinations and rationalizations, such as seen with conservative political correctness. It’s the “Faceless Men” aspect of the reactionary mind that never can be straightforward about what it is about, and I’ve come to suspect this exists within every conservative. Even in the more moderate variety, the conservative mind can go round and round. I must admit I find it fascinating.

One doesn’t have too look at the extreme examples such as evangelicals justifying their support of Donald Trump. Let me describe a situation involving my mother, an old school conservative who is no fan of Trump. But before I get to that, let me explain exactly what is represented by her conservatism.

My mother is conventional in thought and behavior, just wanting to go along to get along. Even if there was an authoritarian takeover of the country, she wouldn’t join the freedom fighters but instead would simply keep her head down, although she might also try to do the morally right thing in small ways as long as it didn’t bring her any negative scrutiny or otherwise threaten her life and lifesyle. She means well and genuinely acts accordingly, but it simply isn’t in her to defy authority or to act foolhardy, not aspiring to be the next Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The moral acts she does such as volunteering are motivated by their being part of a system of hierarchical authority, in this case a Christian church, telling her that is what she is supposed to do. I suppose that, if she belonged to an evangelical church instead of a mainline church and if everyone she knew including the preacher supported Trump, she likely would have gotten in line to vote for Trump no matter her personal opinion. After all, she strongly defended Sarah Palin and it is a small step from that to where the GOP is now.

My father, less traditionally conservative, almost voted for Trump just to spite Hillary Clinton. What ultimately stopped him from voting Trump and so maybe stopped him from swaying my mother to follow suit was the sense of social judgment that would follow, as most of his immediate family and many of his friends, church members, etc aren’t Trump supporters — even if that imagined social judgment was limited to the confines of his own mind. They now live in this liberal college town where the conservatives here are likewise more liberal-minded. But if they had remained in the conservative Deep South and had still been attending a highly conservative church, my parents might have voted for Trump because that is what so many people around them would have been doing.

Social situation means everything to the conservative sensibility, in their sensitivity to social pressure and persuasion. My parents achingly long to fit in, to belong, to be accepted, to conform. Because of this, they are highly malleable in their views, depending on the community they happen to be living in at any given period of their lives. When younger, they became surrounded by liberals and went through an extreme liberal phase (my father claims my mother used to be pro-life). This left a permanent imprint on their children, my brothers and I who span from liberal to left-wing, not having changed over our lifetimes. Yet my parents’ have swung back and forth from outwardly conservative to outwardly liberal, as their social group shifted. This happened multiple times for my parents as they moved to diverse kinds of communities.

That is perfectly normal behavior for the conservative-minded. If my parents had spent their entire lives in a liberal community, in submitting to local social order and conforming to the local social norms, they simply would have always identified as liberal and would have never known otherwise. I suspect many self-identified liberals (along with many self-identified ‘centrists’ and ‘moderates’), specifically partisan Clinton Democrats, would measure higher on conscientiousness and lower on openness (as compared to voters who are independents, third partiers, left-liberals, progressives, etc), which is how the Democrats have become the new conservative party since the GOP went full hog reactionary right-wing. Conservative-mindedness, like many psychological tendencies, is relative and context-dependent, existing as it does along a spectrum within a particular place and time. No one, however low they might measure, is entirely lacking in conscientiousness (or openness) without being severely dysfunctional. That is how most traits operate, in serving some necessary or useful function, typically being problematic only at the extremes of either end.

With that wordy introduction out of the way, let me get to the recent situation with my mother (for background, see two earlier examples: here & here). It really amused me because it was one of those moments I could see the gears moving in her conservative mind.

The context at present is this liberal college town where recycling for many liberals might be genuine environmental concern or might be mere virtue signalling but for my parents it is simply an act of conforming to local social standards. All of their neighbors weekly put out their recycling bins along the street and my parents might be embarrassed to be the only people in the neighborhood to not do so. Recycling is what good liberals do in a good liberal town and, to that extent, my parents play the locally expected social role of the good liberal. It’s the conservative-minded thing to do. But at times the socially expected behavior isn’t entirely clear, making the conservative uncomfortable and distressed.

The city government picks up some recyclable material but not all. Since Iowa has a five cent refund on cans, my parents collect those in separate bags to take back to the store. This past week, they took the cans with them when they went shopping. For some reason, the machine that takes returns wouldn’t take a certain brand and my mother couldn’t find on the label where it showed they have a refund value. This really bothered my mother and she didn’t know what to do. It didn’t seem so complicated to me. I honestly don’t care about the refund and, after all, they were mostly my cans that I paid for. I gave mother some suggestions, such as putting them by a dumpster and letting a homeless person take care of it, but she said that it was illegal to put things in a dumpster that isn’t yours. That is true and yet, to my liberal mind, irrelevant.

Here was this situation where the normal rules, processes, and laws didn’t allow a straightforward course of action. So, my mom brought the cans home and fretted over the situation. She was about ready to throw them in the trash because, to her conservative mind, that would be a more appropriate response than the less conventional options I suggested. I eventually solved the problem for her in a way that isn’t relevant for my telling this anecdote. The solution wasn’t complicated and the cans got recycled.

How my mother and I perceived this situation had everything to do with conservative-mindedness versus liberal-mindedness. The reason my mother has never stuck anything inappropriate in an outlet or in her butt, as far as I know, is the same reason she couldn’t resolve this seemingly minor conflict. To her conservative mind, this was about appropriate behavior and there were no guidelines to follow. But to my liberal mind, the possible options were multitudinous. I’ll worry about what is illegal when there is good reason to worry such as a cop driving by, no different than my only having been concerned about what happens by sticking something into an outlet after I got shocked.

There can be a simplicity about liberal-mindedness, not that it always lead to happy and beneficial results, as I can attest. In comparison, the obsessive and excessive worrying of conservatives can seem perplexing, at least to the liberal, but it makes perfect sense to the conservative mind.

Advertisements

Politics, Personality, and Character

Politics, Personality, and Character

Posted on Oct 13th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25335299/   

Republican presidential nominee John McCain has spent months positioning himself as the heir to Ronald Reagan’s conservative movement. Recent poll data, however, show that his Democratic opponent perhaps better embodies some of Reagan’s key personality traits.  

http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/Obama/Obama_Personality-Profile_2007.html

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Sen. Obama’s primary personality patterns were found to be Ambitious/confident and Accommodating/cooperative, with secondary features of the Outgoing/congenial pattern.
The combination of Ambitious, Accommodating, and Outgoing patterns in Obama’s profile suggests a confident conciliator personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype, though self-assured and ambitious, are characteristically gracious, considerate, and benevolent. They are energetic, charming, and agreeable, with a special knack for settling differences, favoring mediation and compromise over force or coercion as a strategy for resolving conflict. They are driven primarily by a need for achievement and also have strong affiliation needs, but a low need for power.
The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for anticipating Obama’s likely leadership style as chief executive, thereby providing a basis for inferring the character and tenor of a prospective Obama presidency. 


http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/Obama/Obama_Jittan_1-4-2008.html

Transformational

Using a standard assessment procedure developed at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, we generated a personality profile for Sen. Obama. The profile reveals that Obama’s most prominent personal attributes are confidence, assertiveness, and congeniality.

In office, the behavior of confident, ambitious leaders like Obama is characteristically shaped by four core qualities: power, pragmatism, ideology, and self-validation. As persons with a strong belief in their talents and leadership ability, power is an important driver for their leadership behavior and they favor pragmatism as a way of ensuring their own success. Because of extraordinary confidence in their own ideas and potential for success, they are strongly motivated by ideology and a desire to transform society. Finally, their high-self-esteem stimulates a corresponding need for affirmation, resulting in a quest for personal validation.


Ambitious, goal directed

Ambitious, confident leaders like Obama are more goal- than process oriented. This implies that their own advancement and success is more important to them than compromise or maintaining good relations with colleagues.

By the same token, they also are more likely to act as advocates for their own policy vision than as consensus builders or arbitrators. However, because of their pragmatic nature, they will act in a cooperative or harmonious manner when they see it as furthering their self-interest.


Charismatic

Obama’s combination of confidence, assertiveness, and congeniality fits the profile of a charismatic leader; he is ambitious, dominant, and outgoing, which enables him to advance a personal vision, inspire followers, and connect with people.

The outgoing pattern in Obama’s personality profile, a quality he shares with presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. John McCain – yet notably absent in Sen. Clinton – may be key to his meteoric rise to prominence and electoral success thus far in the 2008 election cycle. Ironically, in view of President Clinton’s “roll the dice” comment noted above, Obama shares more of Bill Clinton’s charismatic personality traits than any of the top-tier candidates in either party.
He will be a tough candidate to beat. In fact, Obama’s greatest obstacle may not be whether he has the right personal qualities or the requisite experience to lead, but the readiness of America to elect an African-American to the highest office in the nation.


http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/Obama/Clinton-Obama_London_3-3-2008.html


http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/McCain/McCain_Sweetman_1-7-2008.html


http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/McCain/McCain_Personality-Profile_2007.html

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Sen. McCain’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dauntless/dissenting, with secondary features of the Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling patterns.
The combination of Dauntless and Outgoing patterns in McCain’s profile suggests a risk-taking adventurer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are characteristically bold, fearless, sensation seeking, and driven by a need to prove their mettle.
McCain’s major personality strengths in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that can be instrumental in connecting with critical constituencies for mobilizing support and implementing policy initiatives. His major personality-based limitation is a predisposition to impulsiveness, one manifestation of which is a deficit of emotional restraint.


http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/ExecutiveSummaries/McCain.html

Sen. John McCain’s personality-based leadership strengths include:

  • the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage;
  • a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that enables him to connect with people;
  • skills and talents that can be employed to mobilize support and implement his policies; and
  • a dauntless, confident orientation conducive to the cut and thrust of political life and potentially useful in crisis situations.

Sen. John McCain’s personality-based leadership limitations include:

  • impulsiveness and lack of emotional restraint;
  • a tendency to make unguarded, imprudent remarks that may undermine his political capital;
  • a rebellious nature, accompanied by intolerance of delay or frustration and low thresholds for emotional discharge, particularly anger and hostility;
  • a potential for taking unnecessary risks and failing to plan ahead.


http://www.csbsju.edu/uspp/McCain/McCain’s_’histrionic’_personality.html

First and foremost it must be pointed out that, as with all personality patterns, the outgoing pattern occurs on a continuum ranging from normal to maladaptive. At the well-adjusted pole are warm, congenial personalities. Slightly exaggerated outgoing features occur in sociable, gregarious personalities such as Bill Clinton. And in its most deeply ingrained, inflexible form, extraversion manifests itself in impulsive, self-centered, overdramatizing, histrionic behavior patterns that may be consistent with a clinical diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder. In a nutshell, then, this is the essence of the outgoing personality pattern:

  • Characteristic behavior. Outgoing personalities are typically friendly and engaging. In more intense form these personalities are livewire, animated bon vivants. In its most extreme, often maladaptive form, histrionic personalities are flamboyant, self-dramatizing thrill-seekers with a penchant for momentary excitements, fleeting adventures, and shortsighted, hedonistic self-indulgence. As leaders they tend to lack “gravitas” and may be prone to scandal, predisposed to reckless, imprudent behaviors, with a penchant for spur-of-the-moment decisions without carefully considering alternatives.
  • Personal relations. Outgoing personalities are demonstrative, amiable, and display their feelings openly-anger included. In more extreme form, gregarious individuals may be shallow, superficial attention-seekers highly attentive to popular appeal. Finally, the full-blown histrionic is likely to be flirtatious and seductively exhibitionistic, actively manipulating others to solicit praise, approval, or attention. In a political leadership role, these traits translate into a strong need for validation, one manifestation of which may be an overreliance on polls as an instrument of policy formulation.
  • Mindset. Outgoing personalities are not paragons of deep thinking or self-reflection; they typically avoid introspective thought, focusing, instead, on external matters. In its more crystallized form, this personality style is exemplified by a superficial, often “thoughtless” mode. Finally, in their most distilled form, histrionic personalities are poor integrators of experience; they are slow to learn from their mistakes. Politically speaking, this tendency may result in scattered learning, poor judgment, and flawed decision-making.
  • Temperament Temperament refers primarily to activity level and the character and intensity of emotional experience. Outgoing personalities are emotionally expressive, responsive, spirited, and lively. People with more exaggerated variants of the outgoing pattern may be overexcitable and moody, with frequent-though short-lived-emotional displays. In its most maladaptive form, the histrionic personality is impetuous, mercurial, and capricious, being easily enthused and as readily angered or bored. Leaders with this personality pattern are skilled at staying in touch with the mood of the people but also prone-as at least one observer in the Clinton White House has put it-to periodic “purple rages.”
  • Self-image Outgoing personalities are confident in their social abilities, typically viewing themselves as affable and well liked. In stronger doses, extraversion translates into a charming sense of self. In its most distilled form, the histrionic’s self-perception has a hedonistic character, epitomized by a self-indulgent image of attracting acquaintances through pursuit of a busy, pleasure-oriented lifestyle. In politics, outgoing personalities, more than any other character types, are political animals strongly attracted to the lure of campaigning; they thrive on the validation of self offered by adulating crowds and the frenetic, connect-with-people activity on the rope line.
  • Self-regulation. The preferred stress-management strategy of outgoing personalities is to engage in self-distracting, mindless activities, often in the form of games or physical diversions. In maladaptive form, histrionic personalities employ the defense mechanism of dissociation (or so-called “compartmentalization”) to cope with conflict and anxiety. The political implications of dissociation include a leader’s failure to face up to unpleasant, dissonant thoughts, feelings, and actions and facile, complemented by cosmetic image-making as revealed in a succession of socially attractive but changing facades.

I conclude this analysis with the caveat that my initial assessment of John McCain’s personality, based on his autobiography and other materials in the public domain, departs from the analysis of McCain’s naval examiners. In my opinion, the outgoing pattern is of secondary significance in McCain’s overall character structure. Of greater primacy is a dauntless, dissenting personality pattern, which McCain shares with Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and, to a lesser extent, George W. Bush.

As a parting thought-lest we come too quickly to conclusions concerning John McCain’s character-consider this: With the exception of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, outgoing candidates have prevailed in every presidential contest since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

http://convention3.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/0/4/5/2/p204527_index.html  
McCain’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dauntless/dissenting, with secondary features of the Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling patterns. Giuliani’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/aggressive, with secondary features of the Conscientious/dutiful and Ambitious/confident patterns. The combination of Dauntless and Outgoing patterns in McCain’s profile suggests a risk-taking adventurer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are characteristically bold, fearless, sensation seeking, and driven by a need to prove their mettle. The combination of Dominant and Conscientious patterns in Giuliani’s profile suggests an aggressive enforcer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are tough, uncompromising, and believe they have a moral duty to punish and control those who deviate from socially sanctioned norms. McCain’s major personality strengths in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that can be instrumental in connecting with critical constituencies for mobilizing support and implementing policy initiatives. His major personality-based limitation is a predisposition to impulsiveness, one manifestation of which is a deficit of emotional restraint.  

http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov04/president.html  

Twenty-seven percent of American voters claim they choose presidential candidates primarily on the basis of the nominee’s character and moral values, according to a poll conducted after the 2000 elections. However, candidates with a solid character–straightforward, dutiful and disciplined–often run into trouble being an effective president, says Steven J. Rubenzer, PhD, a Houston-based clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Foundation for the Study of Personality in History. In fact, a tendency to tell the truth can actually harm a president’s shot at being considered historically “great,” he says.  

—  

Those presidents who received high marks from historians tended to be smart, have ambitious goals and be willing to bend the truth, according to results published in Rubenzer’s new book–co-authored with retired clinical psychologist Tom Faschingbauer, PhD–“Personality, Character & Leadership in the White House: Psychologists Assess the Presidents” (Brassey’s, 2004). And these findings converge with previous research by political psychologists such as Dean Simonton, PhD, at the University of California, Davis, who finds that intelligence, as measured by a combination of personal achievements, analysis of a president’s interests and scores on the personality measure openness to experience, predicts presidential success above all other individual factors.  

—  

“Openness overlaps with intelligence because to some degree you have to be intelligent to appreciate new experiences,” explains Simonton. “People who are low in intelligence, their systems are overwhelmed by the very rich environments that are attractive to people who are open to new experiences.”  


However, the personality factors that increase candidates’ chances for success in office are not necessarily the same as those that help them get elected, psychologists say. For example, intellectual brilliance seems negatively related to a president’s margin of victory, finds Simonton.
“The ones who are the most intellectually brilliant are often barely elected,” he says. “They have trouble speaking in sound bites and communicating with the public.”

While intelligence can make for a good president but a bad candidate, achievement-striving–or the tendency to work toward lofty goals–may benefit presidents both on the campaign trail and while in office.
“Achievement-striving means people have high goals, but more importantly, they work hard to achieve them,” says Rubenzer. “They stay focused; they are kind of workaholics.”

In contrast, research by psychologist David Winter, PhD, at the University of Michigan, finds that achievement motivation, defined as a drive to do things well, may be a hindrance for presidents in office.

“People high in achievement motivation do best when they have large amounts of personal control,” says Winter. “They become frustrated by the bureaucracy of politics.”
Indeed, in Rubenzer’s personality analysis Carter, who historians note as stymied by the checks and balances of the presidency, scored very high on achievement-striving–in the top 1 percent of all former presidents. However, Carter had two fatal personality flaws: a lack of assertiveness and a tendency to be straightforward, notes the psychologist.
“A president has to influence, either by deceit or forcefulness,” says Rubenzer. “When you see those two scores on someone who is otherwise so qualified you think, well, maybe that is the reason.”

http://www.apa.org/releases/presidents.html  

Results of the research indicate that great presidents, besides being stubborn and disagreeable, are more extraverted, open to experience, assertive, achievement striving, excitement seeking and more open to fantasy, aesthetics, feelings, actions, ideas and values. Historically great presidents were low on straightforwardness, vulnerability and order.  

—  

It may come as no surprise that the research shows that most modern presidents are clearly extraverts. However, the data indicates that the early presidents scored below average on this factor. Does that mean that presidents are becoming more extraverted, or that the entire population has become more extraverted? The researchers say their data can’t answer that question, but “given the increasing role of the media in presidential elections, the more plausible explanation is that the change is limited to the presidents and not the general population.”    

http://www.personalitiesinhistory.com/Presidency_Project.asp  

Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' The ability to lie and deceive is an important quality for success in the White House, and presidents who are less straightforward typically make better presidents.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Despite his recent popularity and reputation for integrity, John Adams’s personality closely resembled Richard Nixon’s.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Presidents are much more Extraverted today than in the past and less intellectually curious than in the past. They may also be lower in character.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Jimmy Carter is the only modern president that much resembles Founding Fathers Jefferson and Madison and the greatest president of the 19th century, Abe Lincoln. Eisenhower is the only modern president much like Washington.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Franklin Roosevelt seems to be the template for modern presidents, with recent presidents showing high (Kennedy, Clinton) or moderate (LBJ) similarity to him. Reagan resembled his as well.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Modern Democratic presidents tend to be very Extraverted, achievement-oriented, ebullient, and sympathetic to the poor, but are willing to deceive and relatively unprincipled.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' Modern Republican presidents tend to be less sympathetic to the less fortunate and much more inclined to rely on traditional sources of moral authority than average Americans.
Presidential traits described in 'The Personality and the Presidency Project' George W. Bush appears to have fewer traits related to presidential success than most presidents. He most resembles Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan.

 
http://www.personalitiesinhistory.com/Types_of_Presidents.asp  

Types of Presidents


© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
DominatorsThe Dominators include LBJ, Nixon, Andrew Johnson, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Teddy Roosevelt, and Chester Arthur (in order of inclusion).

They are prone to bully others and to disregard the feelings and rights of those not on their side. They are bossy, demanding, and domineering; they flatter or manipulate people to get their way. They bend or break rules, and as presidents, stretch the constraints of constitutional government. They are not religious or spiritual, and tend to be prejudiced.

IntrovertsJohn Adams, John Quincy Adams, Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, James Buchanan, Woodrow Wilson, and Benjamin Harrison.

Introverted presidents are psychologically minded, complex, deep men. They are not regarded as warm and friendly, and have difficulty controlling social situations. They prefer to work alone and avoid close relationships. Often jittery or tense, they are not happy and high-spirited; they tend to feel irritable, overwhelmed by stress, and to overreact.


© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
Good GuysHayes, Taylor, Eisenhower, Tyler, Fillmore, Cleveland, Ford, and Washington.

Good Guys almost never feel themselves to be worthless, are rarely jittery or tense, and don’t feel overwhelmed by stress. They make good decisions even under adversity. They have a hard time lying, aren’t crafty or sly, and don’t trick, bully or flatter people to get their way. They don’t spend much time fantasizing and daydreaming but don’t deny problems.

InnocentsTaft, Harding, and Grant

Innocents are submissive and accept domination easily, and are “gullible, naive, suggestible.” Not autonomous, independent or individualistic, they sometimes don’t assert themselves when they should. Compared to other presidents (who are an industrious lot), they have trouble getting motivated and down to work, and are lethargic, sluggish, lazy, and slothful.


© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
The ActorsThe Actors group includes Ronald Reagan, Warren Harding, William Henry Harrison, Bill Clinton, and Franklin Pierce

Compared to other presidents, Actors are gullible, naive, and suggestible, warm and self-disclosing; they allow their feelings to show on their faces and in their posture. They are not meticulous, perfectionistic, or precise; they tend to waste time before getting to work, and tolerate unethical behavior in colleagues. Actors are enthusiastic, spirited, vivacious, zestful, charismatic, and charming.

Maintainers This group contains William McKinley, George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and Harry Truman

Maintainers stay focused on the job, work slowly but steadily, and are “industrious, persistent, tenacious, thorough.” They are “uncreative, unimaginative,” and do not indulge in elaborate daydreams and fantasies. They are conforming and conventional, not rebellious.


© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

© Steve Rubenzer, 2004
PhilosophesJames Garfield, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Jimmy Carter, and Rutherford Hayes.

Compared to other presidents, Philosophes are curious and inquisitive, interested in science, and fascinated by patterns in nature and art. They are concerned with philosophical issues (e.g., religion, the meaning of life), have many interests, and enjoy solving brain-twister puzzles. They see themselves as broad-minded and believe that students should be exposed to new ideas and controversial speakers.

Despite being analytical, logical, and good at math, they value art and beauty and are attentive to the moods of different settings. They are also “nice” people: They believe that everyone is deserving of respect and prefer complimenting others to being praised themselves.
ExtravertsFDR and Kennedy form the kernel of this cluster, and are followed by Bill Clinton, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, William Harrison, Warren Harding, Andrew Jackson, and LBJ.

Extraverted presidents are enthusiastic, spirited, vivacious, and zestful; they call attention to themselves. They are “impetuous, uninhibited, unrestrained,” are not consistent, predictable, or steady. They indulge their impulses and show their feelings through their faces and body language. They have a flair for the dramatic but are not dependable and responsible. They don’t take pride in being rational or objective.


© Steve Rubenzer, 2004

http://www.personalitiesinhistory.com/2004_Elections.asp
        
http://www.personalitiesinhistory.com/Predicting_Success.asp   

What is the Right Stuff to be a Successful President?
Using our data, Professor Deniz Ones of the University of Minnesota identified the following personality factors as predictors of presidential success:


Rated Intelligence
– Intelligence is related to success in almost any complicated job, from CEO to NFL quarterback. Although we did not have intelligence test scores, we did ask our raters how intelligent, inventive, insightful, complex, and wise they perceived the various presidents to be. Those that received high ratings, like Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Wilson, performed better than those who are rated as less gifted, like Harding.


Assertiveness
, or dominance, is the capacity to influence through one’s presence and ideas. It is the single most important trait to presidential success. Presidents are an assertive group, and on the average score higher than eight of ten typical Americans. Better presidents like the Roosevelts, Wilson, and Jackson score higher than average chief executives. Truman was the only successful president who was less assertive than his peers. Low scorers include Harding, Taft, and Coolidge.


Positive Emotions
– A president’s optimism and enthusiasm are important for performance on the job, but also for getting elected. Enthusiastic and high spirited presidents like the Roosevelts, Clinton, and Kennedy are typically more successful; low scorers are reserved and serious, like J. Q. Adams, Hoover, and Nixon. Washington was the only truly successful low scorer on this scale.


Activity Level
– Highly energetic chief executives like TR, LBJ, and Carter tend to be rated higher on this scale by historians than more placid characters like Grant, Taft, and Coolidge.


Achievement striving
(having high goals and working towards them in a systematic and focused manner) is an obvious asset and is related to success in most all walks of life apart from the arts. Two of the lowest scorers, Grant and Harding, are widely regarded as presidential failures. High scorers include a number of undisputed “greats” like Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, and Washington, but also more ambiguous performers such as Carter, Nixon, and LBJ.


Low Straightforwardness
– Historians tell us that a president’s credibility is essential to the ability to lead. Yet, the tendency and ability to deceive is correlated with historians’ ratings of presidential success. Great presidents, such as Lincoln and FDR, have tended to bend the truth more than a little. Both managed to be both a moral leader and an artful politician. Grant and Fillmore were more honest, but also less effective.


Tender-Mindedness
(concern for the less fortunate) predicts both presidential success and ethical behavior on the job. FDR and Lincoln scored high on this quality, while Buchanan and Nixon scored low.


Competence
– High scorers on this scale seek appropriate information when faced with a decision, have good judgment, and are broadly capable – like Washington and Eisenhower. Low scores include the lowest ranked presidents Harding and Grant, but also the impetuous and successful Andrew Jackson.


Low Vulnerability
– Presidents who feel unnerved by stress and unable to cope with problems on their own (score high on Vulnerability) are likely to be given low marks by historians. Emotionally hardy presidents, like Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, tend to do better than more Vulnerable chief executives, like Harding and the Adams’s.
These are the only traits that have been empirically shown to have a distinct and unique relation to presidential success. “Character” was unrelated to historians’ rating of presidential greatness.
  http://www.andycrown.net/presidential_personality.htm   
Presidential Personality

 

Dimensions of personality according to James David Barber in The Pulse of Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 1980).
1) Activity or Passivity

How much energy does a president invest in his presidency?
2) Positiveness or Negativeness toward the job of president

Does the president enjoy his job?  Does he enjoy exercising power?  Does the job make him sad or discouraged?
*These dimensions are closely related to dimensions of dominance/submissiveness, extroversion/introversion, and optimism/pessimism.
Types of Personality
1. Active positive

A president who spends a lot of energy and enjoys his job.  This type of president tends to have high self-esteem.  He tends to be productive in pushing programs through.  He is flexible enough to try something else when his plans are stymied.  He wants results.

FDR, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, George Bush (The first Bush presidency)
2. Active negative

A president who spends a lot of energy but does not enjoy his job.  This type tends to have low self-esteem.  Expands his energy compulsively to compensate for some shortcoming or to prove to others that he is a person to be reckoned with,  Seeks and tries to retain power.  Is rigid when stymied.  He wants to get and keep power.

Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson
3. Passive positive

A president who does not spend much energy but nevertheless likes the job.  Tends to have low self-esteem and compensates for this by seeking affection instead of power.  He does this by being agreeable and cooperative rather than assertive.  He wants affection.

William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Ronald Reagan
4. Passive negative

A president who does not spend much energy and does not like the job.  He becomes president because he thinks he should, out of a sense of service to the country.  He wants the grim satisfaction of doing his duty.

Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon


http://www.politicaltypes.com/content/view/24/56/
  

NTPs tend towards independent more than towards either party but tend towards Republican slightly more than Democrat.
STJs tend towards Republican more than Democrat but tend towards Democrat more than independent.
ENFs tend to be equally distributed between Republican and Democrat.  

ISTJ
Dem  
30%
Rep  
42%
Ind  
28%
ISFJ
Dem  
34%
Rep  
36%
Ind  
30%
INFJ
Dem  
49%
Rep  
22%
Ind  
29%
INTJ
Dem  
19%
Rep  
40%
Ind  
41%
ISTP
Dem  
28%
Rep  
38%
Ind  
34%
ISFP
Dem  
33%
Rep  
26%
Ind  
41%
INFP
Dem  
38%
Rep  
22%
Ind  
40%
INTP
Dem  
17%
Rep  
34%
Ind  
49%
ESTP
Dem  
27%
Rep  
35%
Ind  
37%
ESFP
Dem  
39%
Rep  
31%
Ind  
31%
ENFP
Dem  
34%
Rep  
31%
Ind  
34%
ENTP
Dem  
26%
Rep  
28%
Ind  
45%
ESTJ
Dem  
32%
Rep  
46%
Ind  
22%
ESFJ
Dem  
33%
Rep  
37%
Ind  
30%
ENFJ
Dem  
35%
Rep  
35%
Ind  
30%
ENTJ
Dem  
26%
Rep  
40%
Ind  
34%

 
http://www.thembtiblog.com/2008/10/mbti-preferences-of-republicans-and.html  

Republicans preferred INTJ, ENTJ, ESTJ, and ISTJ (the executive types). The ESTJs are more than twice as likely as the INFPs and INFJs to be Republicans.

Democrats were typically NF or INFJ. In fact, those people with a preference for Feeling are more likely than other types to identify themselves as Democrats.

Independents preferred NTP.  

http://www.personalityzone.com/user/KipParent/view/blog/politics-genes-and-temperament.html

  • Artisans are about 10% more likely to be registered as Democrats than as Republicans or Independents. They are the least likely to actually vote in an election.
  • Guardians are about 10% more likely to identify themselves as Republicans than as Democrats, and are the least likely of the temperaments to be Independents or apolitical. They are also the most likely to vote.
  • Idealists are 17% more likely to be Democrats than Independents, and 34% more likely Democrats than Republicans.
  • Rationals are the most likely to identify themselves as Independents or apolitical. For those that are party members, they are 45% more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.
Raw results:
Apolitical Dem Rep Lib Ind Green Likely to vote
Artisans 9.6% 28.2% 25.4% 5.9% 24.1% 6.9% 47.5%
Guardians 9.1% 29.6% 32.5% 3.4% 21.4% 4.1% 60.0%
Idealists 12.6% 28.3% 21.2% 6.2% 24.7% 7.1% 56.4%
Rationals 13.8% 25.6% 17.5% 7.9% 28.0% 7.2% 58.4%

    
http://www.personalitypage.com/political_affil.html  

Percentages of political affiliation amongst types.  

http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:X1nCcq-HLaEJ:www.aptinternational.org/assets/jptvol67_0307_apti.pdf+republican+democrat+%22mbti%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=7&gl=us  

“SJs were overrepresented in persons reporting very conservative political views, and Ns were overrepresented in persons reporting very liberal political views (ENTJs excepted).”  

FFM Openness to experience factor correlates to Intuition.  

Type is correlated with party affiliation but not party registration.
STJ – Conservative   
NFP – Liberal  Inuitives show more interest in politics.
Introversion (and Sensation) correlated to a sense of political alienation.
Thinking correlated with being for the death penalty.
Perceiving correlated with being pro-choice about abortion.  

http://www.mypersonality.info/personality-types/famous-people/  

  Protectors (SJ)

ESTJOverseer ESFJSupporter ISTJExaminer ISFJDefender
Lyndon B. Johnson William McKinley George Washington
James Monroe Andrew Johnson
Andrew Jackson Benjamin Harrison
William Henry Harrison Herbert Hoover
Grover Cleveland George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush Harry Truman

  Creators (SP)

ESTPPersuader ESFPEntertainer ISTPCraftsman ISFPArtist
James Buchanan Ronald Reagan Zachary Taylor Millard Fillmore
Bill Clinton Ulysses S. Grant

  Intellectuals (NT)

ENTJChief ENTPOriginator INTJStrategist INTPEngineer
Franklin D. Roosevelt John Adams Dwight D. Eisenhower Abraham Lincoln
Richard Nixon James A. Garfield Thomas Jefferson James Madison
Rutherford B. Hayes Woodrow Wilson John Quincy Adams
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Chester A. Arthur John Tyler
Calvin Coolidge Gerald Ford
James K. Polk

  Visionaries (NF)

ENFJMentor ENFPAdvocate INFJConfidant INFPDreamer
Martin Van Buren

 
http://www.keirsey.com/picking_president_temperament.aspx     

Elections Since 1960
Year Winner Temperament Loser Temperament
1960 Kennedy Artisan Promoter Nixon Guardian
1964 Johnson Artisan Promoter Goldwater Rational
1968 Nixon Guardian Supervisor Humphrey Idealist
1972 Nixon Guardian Supervisor McGovern Guardian
1976 Carter Guardian Supervisor Ford Guardian
1980 Reagan Artisan Performer Carter Guardian
1984 Reagan Artisan Performer Mondale Guardian
1988 Bush-41 Guardian Protector Dukakis Guardian
1992 Clinton Artisan Performer Bush-41 Guardian
1996 Clinton Artisan Performer Dole Guardian
2000 Bush-43 Artisan Promoter Gore Rational
2004 Bush-43 Artisan Promoter Kerry Idealist

 
http://www.personalityzone.com/user/KipParent/view/blog/rating-the-candidates-4-personality-as-the-differe.html  

John McCain is the Republican Party’s secret weapon in this election, should they decide to nominate the most electable (of the 4 I’ve looked at so far, that is) of their candidates.  Why is McCain the most electable, even though he is languishing well behind the front-runners in most primary polls?
Simple.  McCain is the only Artisan in the bunch.  Of the major Republican candidates, McCain has been the most straight forward to figure.  You get what you see – he really doesn’t seem to have any hidden agenda.  Like most STP Artisans (think Donald Trump or General George Patton), he is a man “in the moment”, not prone to introspection or giving careful thought before reacting to circumstances.

While McCain’s Artisan traits have not endeared him to the largely Guardian Republican base who decide the the primaries, they make him a winner with the independents who actually decide the November election. Remember, these voters are not strongly focused on issues, but on how much they “like” the candidate.  In fact, in both personalityZone’s surveys and CNN’s head-to-head polls, McCain is consistently the strongest of the Republican candidates against each of the Democratic front runners.  More than 100 years of consistent voter behavior in choosing Artisans in the November elections is still true today.


http://www.personalityzone.com/user/KipParent/view/blog/rating-the-candidates-7-personality-as-the-differe.html
  

Like Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, Obama is a Rational, most likely an INTJ Mastermind.  This comes through in his communication style – he has an exceptional ability to paint a vision, to communicate abstract pictures of the future that make sense to people, and his utilitarian approach to action –  looking for what “works” rather than “what’s been done before” or “what is ‘right'”.  

—  

While he is not an Artisan, his ability to connect with people is almost as strong, giving him the best ability outside the true Artisan candidates for garnering the uncommitted voters needed to win in November. 

http://www.slate.com/id/2184696/pagenum/all/#page_start  

Hillary Clinton – ESTJ
Barack Obama – ENFP
John McCain – ESTP  

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MWVmZWRkZDhiZTk3ZTBiNTZlZmFlNTc5NjdkZmYyZTE=   

Obama’s mistake is that he confuses being phlegmatic with being presidential. Hippocrates, the father of medical science, devised a system of grading personalities in the fifth-century B.C. that has never been more relevant. He described those with phlegmatic temperaments as harmonious, calm, easygoing, and diplomatic – precisely the traits that the current campaign coverage suggests we should want in any occupant of the Oval Office.

McCain, by contrast, is what Hippocrates would call choleric. Cholerics are passionate, decisive, opinionated, stubborn, and driven. To paraphrase one notable choleric, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (largely regarded as a great president), there is nothing cholerics love so much as a good fight. McCain’s temperament is, in part, what enabled him to survive imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Viet Cong.

Liberals will fret that the impulsive, passionate McCain has a temperament ill-suited for a president, yet it is those defining characteristics of the choleric – zeal, decisiveness, perseverance, a certainty of opinion on fundamental matters of right and wrong and on our core national values – that make McCain the better choice for the office. Not to lose one’s temper in the face of evil is actually dysfunctional and in certain cases downright dangerous. The real question is, then, not whether McCain has a temper (he most certainly does), but why Obama doesn’t and whether that matters.

Well, it does matter. The affable Obama is less-suited for the office because of his tendency to equanimity. The inclination to avoid confrontation and seek consensus, though admirable, are not the principal traits we should want in the person on whose desk the buck stops. The desire for everyone to get along too often leads to acquiescence and compromise, and a failure to do what is necessary in time of crisis (think of the indecisive Jimmy Carter and his mishandling of the Iran hostage crisis). That is not to say that dispassion and diplomacy have no place. They do, but you probably want them in a secretary of State, not the denizen of the Oval Office.  

——————————————————————————————————————-

Enneagram types of candidates.  

http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/FORUM/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=21386  

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:6lyeJeCJ2J0J:blackfirewhitefire.blogspot.com/2008/09/enneagram-and-politicians.html+obama+mccain+enneagram&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us  

http://everydayenneagramblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/enneagram-personlity-types-of.html  

http://ptypes.disqus.com/ptypes_barack_obamas_enneagram_type_the_peacemaker_9w1/  
——————————————————————————————————————-

Narcissism  

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/narcissism.htm  

http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/story.html?id=0318e3e7-4f42-429c-861a-545b330a7960  

http://www.maccoby.com/Articles/NarLeaders.shtml   

http://pods.gaia.com/is_there_a_god/discussions/view/350021#350021

——————————————————————————————————————-

Political Leadership for the New Century
By Linda O. Valenty, Ofer Feldman

http://books.google.com/books?id=MGXpQDNrPsgC&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=%22Millon+Inventory+of+Diagnostic+Criteria%22+MIDC&source=web&ots=1ow5LMK–E&sig=Xhz8ft1D77f0bdt_z1UwL2EFluQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPR1,M1 

Access_public Access: Public 5 Comments Print // Post this!views (849)  

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 12 hours later

Marmalade said

By the way, I should mention that besides a few summarizing notes the writing in this blog comes from the links.  I merely pulled out the relevant excerpts and put them in order to create a more complex picture of different ways personality can be used to view politics.  Gathering all of this together took me about a week or so.  That is all the motivation I had for this project.  Given anothe week I could’ve summarized it in my own words, but that didn’t seem necessary. 

I don’t have a whole lot of personal opinion about the matter.  I decided to do this blog because it interests me and I thought it would be a good alternative viewpoint to all the mindless media diatribe.  I’m not a big fan of politics, but I am very curious about how psychological and sociological dynamics play out on the largescale.

There is one fundamental distinction that I’d particularly like to point out.  McCain has a preference for the Sensation function.  Obama has a preference for the Intuition function.  Those two functions represent the clearest division between Republicans and Democrats.

On the other hand, the Republicans and Democrats have respectively been called the Daddy and Mommy parties.  This is reminiscent of gender differences in the Judging functions (Thinking and Feeling)… and also the gender differences in Hartmann’s boundary types.  I’ve heard that traditionally Westerners have based their ethics on the Judging functions.  The fact that the Perceiving functions have become a greater focus might represent a shift in our culture.

On a personal note, I’m an INFP and my parents are both TJs.  NFPs are some of the most liberal of the types and TJs tend toward the conservative.  True to our personalities, my parents and I follow the pattern.  It makes me wonder about the real reasons for why we believe what we do.

An interesting complexity is the fact that personality correlates to party affiliation but not to party registration.  So, its possible that conformity to social standards of family and community may play a stronger role than does personality.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

McCain is an interesting case.  After his POW experience, he was involved with psychological testing.  I read that he might be one of the most well-researched politicians because of this.  Most politicians try to hide that kind of information.

I think all presidents should be given psychological (and intelligence) testing.  And I think that such testing should be made a public part of the campaign process.  Ultimately, we are electing a person and I think its only fair we actually know who we are electing.  Psychological testing is predictive of behavior and so it would be helpful in determining what politicians will do versus what they say they’ll do.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 24 hours later

1Vector3 said

Wow. Everything we never knew we wanted to know !!!!!

This definitely goes beyond media prattle, and thank you for that !!!!

I think any one perspective oversimplifies, as per the choleric vs phlegmatic argument for McCain over Obama. As if values and perspectives and past actions weren’t important.

I guess I am a one-issue voter: Who will do the least damage to my freedom and the freedom of others? !!! For that, I rely less on personality and character than past record and stated values and proposed actions.

In the present case, it’s clear to me who is the lesser of the two weevils (Obama, but not by a whole lot lot.) That’s about the best the current society has to offer. At least so it appears on the surface. Perhaps there is actually more choice than that between the two, in favor of Obama. We shall see.

I don’t think politics is the level on which a society changes, so like you (but perhaps for different reasons) I have a very limited span of interest in political matters. Borrrrrrrring.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

I don’t know if that was everything we never knew we wanted to know, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.  I didn’t intend to blog about this exactly.  I just was thinking about personality types in the context the ongoing campaign.  After I’d come across a bunch of info I figured I might as well share.  I was already somewhat familiar with some of this personality info.  Lots of interesting info.

Yes, politics can get quite boring when overexposed to the media talking heads and idiotic campaign ads.  More enjoyable are some of the political satire.  Have you watched any of the Saturday Night Live debate parodies?  The Onion also has some hilarious parodies about the campaigning.  Maybe that’d would make a better blog than any of this.  🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

I’m pissed off!  I just wrote this page long response and my computer turned off right when I was about finished.  Why does a computer always mess up only after you’ve almost completed whatever you’re doing?

Basically, what I was writing about is what orignally motivated me to write this blog.  Obama appears young and vibrant, charismatic and confident.  McCain appears the complete opposite.  He seems like a griping old man.  This campaign hasn’t brought out the best in McCain and Palin hasn’t lived up to the hopes people had in her improving McCain’s image.

Some months ago, I came up with a hypothesis.  Whichever candidate has the best presence is the one who will be elected.  Issues are important but they aren’t what gets a candiate eected, but certainly the economy is helping Obama.  Obama has both personality and the issues working in his favor.  This is why McCain has gone on the attack which is just making his poll numbers go down, but McCain has no other choice (besides simply giving up).

If personality wasn’t an issue, then it would be a fair fight between Obama and McCain.  I don’t know to what degree I would like an Obama presidency, but it would be nice to have a president who actually acts presidential.  McCain, on the other hand, is essentially no different than Bush except he has doesn’t have the easygoing friendliness and joking nature… which is the only good thing Bush has going for him.

By the way, I’m not necessarily for Obama.  But I’m definitely not for McCain.  My assessment of these two candidates isn’t as a voter.  I’m probably more likely to vote for a third party if I vote at all.  I strongly dislike the two party system.  My assessment is simply a matter of personality.  It isn’t about the best man winning but rather about the man with the best image.

Online Debates: Ideology, Education & Psychology

Internet discussions more often than not drive me bonkers.  I’ll mention some data and immediately someone will question and criticize the data.  If they’re a more worthy opponent, they’ll ask for specific sources.  I usually comply and then add even more data just to further support my argument.  The other person may offer data too, but they rarely cite the data and it’s even more rare for them to offer multiple sources.  Most “debates” never get past mere opinionated nitpicking.

I mentioned one example in a previous post.  I gave specific data and quotes from specific sources and framed it within the larger context of scientific consensus… and the other person acted like it meant nothing at all.  As a person who respects facts, I find it odd that many adults (who are potential voters) have such a dubious relationship to facts.  If someone shares facts with me that prove I’m wrong, I accept my being wrong and I do further research to better inform myself.  This attitude of intellectual humility and curiosity seems not to be shared by many people… or at least not many people I meet online which may or may not be a representative example of the American public (but if I had to guess, I’d think that the average internet user is more intelligent and better informed than the average non-internet user).

I just experienced another example.  This one was on Youtube and it was also about the scientific consensus of climatology experts.  Youtube has very limited word count for comments which makes intelligent debate a bit constrained, but I was up for the challenge.  I first mentioned some facts withou citing them, partly because Youtube doesn’t allow comments with url addresses in them.  Some person questioned the validity of my data and offered some other data which they didn’t cite either.  I felt lazy and didn’t want to try to figure out where he was getting his data, and I wasn’t in a mood for debating to any great extent.  So, I just offered the url addresses (by replacing the “.” with “DOT” which Youtube allows) of several scientific articles and Wikipedia articles (and the Wikipedia articles cited many scientific articles). 

My “debate” partner responded by saying that what I was referring to wasn’t peer reviewed and I assumed he must be talking about the first set of data I mentioned.  I had been looking at this data recently and I knew it came from the University of Illinois, but I didn’t know if it was or wasn’t peer reviewed.  I did a quick websearch and found it had been peer reviewed.  This is so typical.  If you look at people’s nitpicking, it is often unfounded.  I suppose people like this just hope you won’t actually check it out for yourself.  Why would this person lie to me just to try to win a debate?  It only took me maybe a minute or so to disprove his claim.  Does this person normally get away with such lies?  Are most people unwilling to check the facts for themselves?  Do most people not know how to use a search engine to find information quickly?

The ironic part was this person said the media is always lying.  So, I pointed out to him that, whether or not the media was lying, it appeared that he was lying or else uninformed.  He never responded back to further challenge me nor to admit to being wrong.  His only objective was to “win” the debate at all costs.  When it became apparent he wasn’t going to “win”, he simply abandoned ship.

I have an online “debate” like this probably on average of once a week (sometimes less when I’m not in a commenting mood).  I don’t go looking for idiots.  It’s just that the idiots are often the ones most willing to brazenly challenge any opinion (no matter how factual) that disagrees with their opinion.  To be fair, there are also many reasonable people online.  My experience, though, that the line between idiotic and reasonable often becomes rather thin when it comes to political and religious ideology.  Even when faced with the facts, few people are willing (or able?) to change their mind.

Why is this?  I’ve studied psychology enough to realize that humans are mostly irrational creatures, but I’m constantly amazed by how irrational certain people can be.  I seem unwilling and unable to accept the fact that most people aren’t capable of intelligent debate.  Part of me thinks that if I present the facts in a fair manner and make a reasonable argument that I can expect the same in return.  Apparently, I’m the irrational one for feeling frustrated by the inevitable irrationality of human nature.

But I do have reason for my irrational hope for rationality.  I occasionally have very intelligent debates with people online and these people even sometimes change their minds when offered new information… I even change my mind sometimes when presented with new information by an intelligent person.  Most often these people seem to be more liberal, libertarian or independent-minded. 

I’ve found that the only subjects that regularly attract intelligent conservatives are economics and sometimes philosophy/theology, but these are subjects that aren’t as easily determined factually according to scientific research (including psychological research).  Conservatives tend to argue more from a perspective of principles that they support with historical examples.  To conservatives, the past is where they look to verify a theory or claim.  I guess that is fine as far as it goes, but it makes for difficult debating because the attempt to understand principles and history is easily swayed by subjective biases.

For example, many libertarians and fiscal conservatives like to talk about free markets.  The problem is that it’s almost impossible to ascertain what this means.  The idea of a “free market” is highly theoretical if not outright idealistic.  No free market has ever existed.  Furthermore, no free market could ever exist because it’s merely a relative label of a market being more free than some other market.  There is no ultimate freedom of markets.  So, these debates lead off in all kinds of directions such as referencing “experts”.  The issue I have with experts in fields such as economics is that expertise is much more subjective in that there is less hard data.  Many of the economic models that have been relied upon have been proven wrong.  It’s almost impossible to scientifically study markets in that confounding factors can’t be easily controlled.

But even intelligent libertarians sometimes are wary of actual scientific data.  Libertarians don’t trust government.  Since scientists sometimes get government grants, scientists can’t be entirely trusted either.  For some reason, libertarians think corporate sponsored scientists would be more trustworthy.

Conservatives in general are more mistrusting of objectivity.  I’m not quite sure what is the reasoning behind this.  Some intelligent conservatives I’ve met actually agree with me about humans being irrational and that seems to be their reason for mistrusting objectivity, but this is a more intelligent argument and probably doesn’t represent the opinion of average conservatives.

To be fair, the smartest people of all probably are independents.  From the data I’ve seen, independents (and the American public in general) are socially liberal and fiscally conservative.  The question is which is the cause?  Do smart people tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative?  OR do social liberals and fiscal conservatives tend to be smart?  Or is there a third causal factor?  MBTI iNtuition and FFM “openness to experience” correlate with testing high on intelligence and correlate with high representation in college.  Also, these psychological functions/traits correlate to liberal attitudes, but I’m not sure how they may or may not correlate to fiscal conservatism.  (There is a nice site about politics and psychological types: http://www.politicaltypes.com.)

Some of the most intelligent debaters will be the MBTI NT types (iNtuition Thinking).  I know that INTPs tend to be self-identify as politically independent and I suspect the same would be true for INTJs.  NTs probably either vote with Democrats for reasons of social liberalism or with libertarians for reasons of it being a third party, but I some NTs might vote Republican for reasons of fiscal conservatism or else for reasons of principles.  I’m not sure how many NTs vote Republican, but polls I’ve seen show that ENTJs are more conservative (probably because TJ – Extraverted Thinking – is their primary function).

So, I can presume that most often, when I’m enjoying an intelligent discussion, I’m probably interacting with a socially liberal iNtuition type.  I don’t know what good this knowledge does for me.  Maybe it helps me to be more forgivng (this person sure is stupid… it’s too bad they were born that way). 

To be more optimistic, psychological research doesn’t show that most people fit in absolute categories.  Most people can learn non-preferred thinking styles and learn to develop weak traits.  Education should teach people how to use all parts of their mind.  The fact that so many people lack critical thinking skills is a failure of our education system and shouldn’t be blamed on individuals.  College favors iNtuition types.  Most professors and college-level teachers are iNtuition types and most of the coursework is more appealing to iNtuitive types.  It’s hard for a strong Sensation type to do well in traditional schooling.  Who can blame them that they don’t go to college or have bad experiences at college?  Who can blame them for falling prey to the notion that college is controlled by liberal elites?

Considering that the MBTI shows Sensation types represent the largest portion of the population, it is quite sad that our education system has the hardest time reaching this category of person.  Sensation types don’t have as much natural talent for abstract thinking and critical thinking.  Sensation types are better with concrete information and concrete learning.  Too much of higher education deals with abstractions and theories.  Dumbing down higher education isn’t the answer.  I think we should have more alternative routes of education. 

When I was in highschool, my best friend was very much a Sensation type who took many alternative classes involving technology.  He was good working with machines and with computers, but he wasn’t extremely smart in terms of intellectuality.  Alternative classes served him well in terms of preparing him for a job in the real world.  The potential criticism, though, is whether he was prepared for being a well-rounded and well-informed citizen.  I suspect not.  The highschool I went to didn’t require students take classes in logic and critical thinking.  The classes in general seemed rather dumbed down.  Unless you were taking college prep classes, you wouldn’t be intellectually challenged.

I feel frustrated.  I don’t want to blame the average person for not being well educated, but I do feel pissed off that our education system has failed these people and so created an intellectually inferior society.  Even news reporting seems dumbed down for the masses.  Shouldn’t the education system and the media, instead, serve the ideal of uplifting the masses by informing them?

Even with intelligent people, I think the education system has often failed.  College is less focused on providing a liberal education and created well informed citizens.  College has merely become a career path.  Many have talked about the problem of specialization of knowledge.  People go to college only to become isolated in some particular field and outside that field they may be largely ignorant. 

People, whether well educated or not, seem less capable of understanding the larger context.  Maybe it’s always been that way.  If so, I hope it’s changing.  I probably shouldn’t expect the education system to do anything more than create good workers… as that seems to be its primary purpose.  My hope is more in the realm of media technology.  The traditional media has been failing for a long time, but the new media has been very successful.  The most well informed people are those who use the new media to inform themselves.  And, because of the new media, the uninformed (be they the average public or the average politician) can no longer spout misinformation without being challenged.

So, to return to the original topic of online debates, maybe a purpose is served by all of the ideological conflict found in the forums and comments sections around the web.  The people who weren’t educated well in school get confronted, whether they like it or not, with new information and with actual critical thinking skills.  Some people might just become even more ideological in response, but many others will learn to be more intelligent debaters.  Even debates where people deny expert opinions may serve a purpose in that a discussion then ensues about the definition of ‘expert’.  The question about the new media is whether the positives will outweigh the negatives.  The uninformed have the opportunity to become even more polarized and entrenched in their views by isolating themselves in forums of the likeminded, but those who want to be informed have more opportunity than ever to do so… and there are many in the middle who are neither extremely ideological nor extremely motivated to learn.

My hope is that the internet remains an open resource and open platform for public debate.  My other hope is that the internet my force the education system to improve by offering both teachers and students to become more well informed.  Students now no longer have to solely rely on the information given by teachers, and teachers no longer have to solely rely on the information that was given to them when they were students.

Political Charts: Ideology & Psychology

http://knowinghumans.net/2009/01/extra-nolan-chart-dimensions.html

The problem I see with political identifications is conflation of factors. 

A major confusion is that few people seem interested in the connection between political views and personality traits.  There has been a lot of psychological research.  There are three models that have been used for political research: MBTI, FFM, and Hartmann’s Boundary Types.  All of those models have been correlated to varying degrees.

When I read many political descriptions, I immediately notice that personality traits and types are being described.  Let me use some examples.

MBTI Intuition is correlated with Openness to Experience and Hartmann’s Thin Boundary Type.  This psychological characteristic correlates to many liberal tendencies: more open and less fearful of the new experience, more hopeful/optimistic about future possibilities, more willingness to experiment, more accepting of those who are different.  Et Cetera.

Boundary types are particularly helpful.  Thick Boundary types prefer clear rules and principles, strong hierarchies and established lines of authority.  Thick boundary types separate imagination from reality, subjectivity from objectivity.  Thick Boundary types want to keep things the same, want to maintain the familiar and known.

The main issue is separating out the psychological elements from the ideological elements… if it is possible.  I wonder what would be left of a political chart if the psychological elements were entirely removed.

http://www.zianet.com/ehusman/weblog/2006/06/nolan-chart-inadequacy.html

Nice analysis.  I’m mostly interested, at the moment, in how the US two party system evolved.  There is one point I would clarify.  You said:

“In America, liberals were cut from their decentralized, agrarian roots and put in search of a new philosophy.”

I wouldn’t agree that the liberals were cut off.  It was more that politics and agriculture were becoming increasingly influenced by industrialization.  The main influence of industrialization was centralization of power and wealth.  It became possible for farmers to work larger fields and so the small family farmer became a less successful model.  In early US, farmers were the common working man, but this changed with industrialization.  The new common working man was the factory worker, and this is the demographic the liberals became identified with in the decades after the Civil War.

Many liberals still wanted power that was decentralized from an elite and instead controlled democratically.  However, centralization of power had gone so far that the only way to counter it was with a different centralization of power.  Worker Unions formed and they fought for laws to legislate the abuse of over-centralized capitalist power.  Decentralization is simply impossible in an industrialized world without dismantling industrialization.  Either power gets centralized in a capitalist elite or a political elite.  From the view of the common working man, the Federal government is a safer bet than the Robber Barons.  At least, Federal government offers the hope for democracy.

During and after WWI, the conservatives retold the narrative of the working class.  Using war patriotism, they were able to undermine the worker’s unions and align worker’s with capitalist interests (redefined as America’s interests).  A major force in causing this redefintion was the KKK and the film The Birth of a Nation.  The KKK encapsulated the new conservative ideology: patriotic nationalism, traditional family values, white culture, anti-immigrant sentiments, and fundamentalist Christianity.  They appealed to the anger and values of many working class people, but the KKK membership was mostly middle and upper class citizens.  The KKK was a gentlemen’s club filled with politicians, judges, police chiefs, and business owners. 

This is how the pro-capitalist conservatives captured the working man vote.  They attacked the blacks and the immigrants.  The conservatives told the working class that there is pride in being a good white person working hard for your family and your country.  This is your country.  You are the true Americans, not the blacks, Chinese, or Mexicans, not the “hyphenated Americans”.

Personality Theory and Research (videos)

I was just watching Youtube videos about MBTI and other personality systems.  I started watching videos of INFPs as I test as an INFP, but I won’t post any of those videos.  I just wanted to collect some of the interesting videos that weren’t about specific people talking about a specific type.

The person going by the username barcode9588 has a Youtube channel (In the Middle of Nowhere) filled with many videos about the theory of MBTI.  She says she is an INTP and I’m glad some INTP felt motivated enough to create these nice explanatory videos.

Vicky Jo also has a Youtube channel (Type Insights) also with a number of videos about MBTI.

The rest of the videos are a mix (including some more odd and humorous videos).