If you’re a conservative, at some point in political discourse with a liberal you’ve found yourself questioning why they cannot stay on track or apply simple logic. The answer to this can be found in the very field most liberals lay claim to, science.
The origins of critical thinking are traced back more than 2,500 years to the Greek philosopher, Socrates. In fact, modern methods of reasoning are referred to as “Socratic Questioning.” Socrates established the importance of pursuing evidentiary premises and closely evaluating reasoning and assumptions. He emphasized the need for clarity and logical consistency in thinking.
The processes of thought made fundamental by Socrates would cultivate the need to think systematically. It would champion the idea that thinking that is comprehensive, well-reasoned, and responsive to objections can take us beyond the surface to deeper meanings.
A study by Northwestern University in 2016 concluded that conservatives are less abstract, more disciplined, and more analytical problem solvers than liberals. Conservatives tend to exhibit more orderly thinking patterns consistent with Socratic Questioning, where liberal problem solving is much more likely to engage impulsive insight.
The application of emotional impulsivity is no surprise to those who regularly engage with left-leaning individuals in debate about political issues. Even the American Journal of Political Science concluded in a 2012 paper that liberal political beliefs are linked to psychoticism.
The paper went on to define this psychoticism as being associated with traits such as tough-mindedness, risk-taking, sensation-seeking, impulsivity and authoritarianism.
There is little evidence, however, that particular personality traits predicate political thought. Most studies show, instead, that the common denominator in political philosophies is a set of particular traits. More simply, not all seeds become trees, but all trees were once seeds. And, there is a big difference between a maple tree and a willow tree.
That is a great oversimplification, but the point is that using the associative property to label your neighbor as a liberal because he’s scatterbrained might not be accurate.
At the end of the day, studies across the board do not deny conservatives the advantage of being better equipped to employ critical thinking skills. A scientific finding that is sure to draw an impulsive response from liberals.