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Are conservatives happier than liberals?

The Washington Post today highlights a new study which suggests that, "[i]n the pursuit of happiness, conservatives are winning."

...According to the 237 Canadian students surveyed for the study, an inclination toward “right-wing authoritarianism” and “social dominance orientation” tend to correlate with personal contentment.

A quick note on terminology here: These are psychological terms, not political ones. They don’t overlap perfectly with our definitions of conservative and liberal. In a nutshell, right-wing authoritarianism involves submission to authority and tradition — generally conservative values. “Social dominance orientation” describes a willingness to support the current social hierarchy; in practical political terms, we’re talking positions like opposition to affirmative action and support for stricter immigration policies.

As Cara MacInnis, the study’s lead author, explains it, authoritarianism and political conservatism are “often highly correlated and some researchers consider [them] to be the same construct,” but they aren’t precisely the same thing.

In either case, her findings are pretty striking. And they back up a growing body of psychological research that suggests conservatives generally feel much happier than liberals.

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