The significant impact of psychological dispositions and personal traits on political ideologies

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Of course, the world is filled with 7 billion souls with different ideological orientations– where the western and progressing majorities fall mostly somewhere on the traditional measuring continuum of liberal and conservative orientations. By inhabiting one of the biggest cultural hubs of the world, I became very interested in understanding different approaches and methodologies of political life as well as of citizenship. In Istanbul, I have had the pleasure of  exploring a cultural experience as well as conducting independent studying and analyses of identities from both psychological and sociological perspectives. It may come as a surprise to some, but psychological dispositions and personality traits may have a much stronger influence on political ideology than any other means regarding factors of intelligence, religion, or even the interpretation of political facts.

The following are various characteristics and personal qualities that greatly affect one’s outlook upon worldview and ideology.

1. Openness to Experience

A person’s openness to new experiences (as well as to “foreignness”) is a personality trait that has been measured by several respected personality tests. People who are more open tend to be more adventurous, thrill-seeking, and novelty-seeking. They also tend to be more likely to change their minds when given new information. While there are certainly thrill-seeking conservatives, people who are open to new experiences are much more likely to be liberal. This may be because liberals tend to favour progression and lean towards changing traditions That which is thrilling and exciting to to some is absolutely irrational and terrifying to others. Conservatives, by contrast, favor predictability and order, which accounts for their desire to maintain traditional, pre-existing beliefs.

As a corollary, people who have had a wide variety of novel experiences are more likely to become liberals. Many conservatives lament the liberalising of university students, but this phenomenon may be due to the fact that university tends to open people up to novel experiences and perspectives. This phenomenon occurs frequently in the west, but has an interesting occurrence in Turkey. The majority of Turkey in old world conservative based on a vast historical background and a focus of preserving the traditions and values of such. The exponential development and growth of Turkey in the past decade (by the conservative AKP) has consequently creating a rising class of young Turks growing with liberal and western sentiments but are being pulled back by their conservative creators.

2. Respect for Authority

People who respect authority tend to value rules, law, and order. Respect for authority is a powerful predictor of conservative political beliefs. Interestingly, an authoritarian personality (one which seeks respect and obedience) is also a predictor of conservative political beliefs. While conservatives are certainly capable of questioning authority, liberals are more likely to prioritise this behaviour as both a political and personal objective.

Religion is a huge source of authority. Turkey is a highly religious nation. Religiousness, piousness, and spirituality are popular tendencies in both  liberals and conservatives. However, the divide comes for conservatives are more likely to fully accept religious authority, whereas liberals may question religious authorities and challenge beliefs.

3. Compassion, Empathy, and Equality

A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2010) found that liberals (as a group) are more likely to value qualities such as compassion, empathy, and equality and, therefore, tend to vote for candidates whose political platforms give these values primary importance. Contrasting this sentiment,  conservatives are more likely to value ideals such as justice and individualism. The liberal emphasis on equality may help to explain why liberals are generally more likely to see inequality. Liberals have a strong desire to uproot inequality, which gives them a motive to seek it out.  On the other hand, conservatives strongly value individual autonomy and are more likely to attribute success or failure to individual characteristics.

4. Sex

Views on sex greatly impact political ideology. In voting trends, some citizens primarily based on issues of sexual morality and sentiments regarding roles of gender.  In western contexts, a liberal might support a candidate solely because he is pro-choice, while a conservative might choose a candidate who opposes gay marriage. These correlations are more extreme in amplified in a progressing, Islamic state (such as Turkey). Like conservatives of the west, they tend to be critical of unusual sexual practices, but the modesty of the women in the public realm as well as their domestic roles in the private, family sector of society are one of the biggest elements of Islamic-influenced culture and social infrastructure. Turkish liberals share the western tendency to view sex as an important path of human expression as well as sentiments of gender equality. Views on gender significantly separate the two approached to critical thinking and of politics for liberals prioritise the abolition of gender traditionalism, while conservatives support traditional gender roles. This often affects voters’ support for political measures that affect women’s equality as well as sexual privacy.

5. Dominance

While both liberals and conservatives have supported and started many wars, conservatives are generally viewed as the more hawkish political group for they are keen on prioritising “hard power” (force, coercion). Contrasting this sentiment, liberals tend to put importance of “soft power” that being of diplomatic measures as well as persuasion and libertarians frequently wish to avoid intervening in international affairs entirely. Highly dominant personalities (those who tend to resolve interpersonal conflict by force) are much more likely to become conservatives. Similarly, other dominant personalities also tend to be less tolerant of conflict between groups and consequently are more likely to view another person’s behavior as threatening. This individual trait can affect a person’s perception of the threats posed by different ideologies and beliefs of other individuals, groups, and countries.

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