RESISTING CHANGE & CLOSURE
The connection to the conservative inclination to resist change is consistent with others’ assessments of this key aspect of the conservative personality. And consistent with an intolerance of ambiguity and the related need for closure, little justification or substantiation is offered. Preservation of existing “arrangements” is to be accepted as an incontrovertible fact, premised on the belief that what worked before will continue to work well. Period.
Specifically, [the need for closure] fosters the tendency to seize on information that affords closure and to freeze on closure once it has been attained. The need for closure, whether varied situationally or measured dispositionally, has been associated with tendencies to engage in social stereotyping … to resist persuasive influence … and to reject opinion deviates. *
The researchers found that being intolerant of ambiguity is associated with such conservative characteristics as unwavering certainty and strong loyalty to particular people and positions.
Conservatives don’t feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions. They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white, the researchers concluded….
Someone with a high need for closure tends to seize on a piece of information that dispels doubt or ambiguity, and then freeze, refusing to consider new information. Those who have this trait can also be expected to spend less time processing information than those who are driven by different motivations, such as achieving accuracy.
KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE?
These characteristics are further anchored by the Right’s inclination to accept current policies and practices as acceptable and necessary, adverse consequences to some notwithstanding. It is otherwise too disconcerting [no doubt for those on the Left as well] to be constantly subjected to reassessments and re-defining the political, economic, and cultural standards which serve as the foundation for daily living. Those on the Left, however, are not so wedded to tradition that they are unwilling to seek change whenever and wherever circumstances suggest the need.
Harmful as it appears to be, there’s a certain logic to all of this if we understand that an aversion to/fear of change is one of the core foundations of conservatism. Regardless of the changes being proposed or imposed, the comfort of the familiar resonates more deeply with those inclined to conservative thought and principles. That assessment is a vital bottom-line consideration for those on the Right, adverse impacts notwithstanding.
SHORTCUTS PRO & CON
In the normal course of our day, we’ll use a variety of mental, emotional, and psychological shortcuts to avoid getting bogged down in the minutiae of daily occurrences. No one needs to spend a moment considering their value or disputing the rationales in those instances.
But there is a much greater concern when employing these strategies for matters involving competing interests; differing perspectives and needs; different levels of understanding, etc. In almost any matter of national significance relating to culture, religion, politics, economics, and a host of interrelated issues, taking the short road from Point A to Point B carries many more risks than most would realize.
Boiling down the climate change debate; or the rights of same-sex couples; or income equality, or Take-Your-Pick-Of-Issues to one or two handy cheat-sheet talking point memos may appeal to those in need of prompt closure. But we usually ignore reality and the full range of perspectives and facts to our eventual detriment. Is that wise?
The flip side is that it then becomes all too easy to get bogged down in the individual details, quickly losing sight of what’s most important. But if that full array of information and considerations are not even brought to the table to help decision-makers and/or to inform the public, what exactly is the benefit—or expectation?
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Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings here [see the links above] and at Peak Oil Matters, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:
The Tretiak Agenda
They began [here] on June 15, and will continue weekly throughout the summer
NOTE: This series runs on Thursdays
~ My Photo: Dusk at Good Harbor Beach, MA – 09.16.13
* Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition by John T. Jost Stanford University; Arie W. Kruglanski University of Maryland at College Park; Jack Glaser University of California, Berkeley; Frank J. Sulloway University of California, Berkeley.
Psychological Bulletin Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2003, Vol. 129, No. 3, 339–375
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
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As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:
We all do better when we all do better
Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?