Friday, March 13, 2015

The Happy Self Report

I've known for years that research finds conservatives are supposedly happier than liberals. (Religious people are supposed to be happier as well.) I always chalked it up to some mild version of ignorance is bliss.

Well, it turns out, it may not even be true -- it appears that it's just that conservatives are more likely to say they're happy when they're asked that question. But if you look at words used or physical manifestations of happiness, like real smiles, liberals come out just a little bit ahead.

It's that darned self-report methodology:

...self-reports...are susceptible to people’s habit of evaluating themselves in an unrealistically positive manner, a tendency that psychologists call self-enhancement.

A fourth study in the series surveyed visitors to, a psychology research website, in which participants filled out questionnaires measuring life satisfaction and the propensity to self-enhance. As in previous research, conservatives reported greater happiness than liberals. But they were also more prone to self-enhancement, the study found.

“Conservatives’ reports of happiness do seem to be bolstered by this self-enhancing tendency”....
The upshot of all this reinforces my bias to believe that conservatives are more likely to be feeding themselves false information in order to maintain their world view. So it makes me happy.

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