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Political ideology predicts involvement in crime

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Abstract

Political ideology represents an imperfect yet important indicator of a host of personality traits and cognitive preferences. These preferences, in turn, seemingly propel liberals and conservatives towards divergent life-course experiences. Criminal behavior represents one particular domain of conduct where differences rooted in political ideology may exist. Using a national dataset, we test whether and to what extent political ideology is predictive of self-reported criminal behavior. Our results show that self-identified political ideology is mono-tonically related to criminal conduct cross-sectionally and prospectively and that liberals self-report more criminal conduct than do conservatives. We discuss potential causal mechanisms relating political ideology to individual conduct.

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Although skeptics continue to doubt that most people are “ideological,” evidence suggests that meaningful left-right differences do exist and that they may be rooted in basic personality dispositions, that is, relatively stable individual differences in psychological needs, motives, and orientations toward the world. Seventy-five years of theory and research on personality and political orientation has produced a long list of dispositions, traits, and behaviors. Applying a theory of ideology as motivated social cognition and a “Big Five” framework, we find that two traits, Openness to New Experiences and Conscientiousness, parsimoniously capture many of the ways in which individual differences underlying political orientation have been conceptualized. In three studies we investigate the relationship between personality and political orientation using multiple domains and measurement techniques, including: self-reported personality assessment; nonverbal behavior in the context of social interaction; and personal possessions and the characteristics of living and working spaces. We obtained consistent and converging evidence that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are robust, replicable, and behaviorally significant, especially with respect to social (vs. economic) dimensions of ideology. In general, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking, whereas conservatives are more orderly, conventional, and better organized.
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Researchers in moral psychology and social justice have agreed that morality is about matters of harm, rights, and justice. On this definition of morality, conservative opposition to social justice programs appears to be immoral, and has been explained as a product of various non-moral processes such as system justification or social dominance orientation. In this article we argue that, from an anthropological perspective, the moral domain is usually much broader, encompassing many more aspects of social life and valuing institutions as much or more than individuals. We present theoretical and empirical reasons for believing that there are five psychological systems that provide the foundations for the world’s many moralities. The five foundations are psychological preparations for detecting and reacting emotionally to issues related to harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. Political liberals have moral intuitions primarily based upon the first two foundations, and therefore misunderstand the moral motivations of political conservatives, who generally rely upon all five foundations.
Article
The so-called Dark Triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy) represent correlated subclinical personality traits capturing “dark personalities”. How might darker personalities contribute to prejudice? In the present study (n = 197), these dark personality variables correlated positively with outgroup threat perceptions and anti-immigrant prejudice. A proposed two-stage structural equation model, assuming indirect personality effects (Dark Personality, Big Five) on prejudice through ideology and group threat perceptions, fit the data well. Specifically, a latent Dark Personality factor predicted social dominance orientation, whereas (low) Openness to Experience predicted right-wing authoritarianism; these ideological variables each predicted prejudice directly and indirectly through heightened intergroup threat. The authors recommend that personality models of prejudice incorporate both normal-range and subclinical personality predictors, in addition to ideological and social psychological mediators.
Article
Social psychologists have often followed other scientists in treating religiosity primarily as a set of beliefs held by individuals. But, beliefs are only one facet of this complex and multidimensional construct. The authors argue that social psychology can best contribute to scholarship on religion by being relentlessly social. They begin with a social-functionalist approach in which beliefs, rituals, and other aspects of religious practice are best understood as means of creating a moral community. They discuss the ways that religion is intertwined with five moral foundations, in particular the group-focused "binding" foundations of Ingroup/loyalty, Authority/respect, Purity/sanctity. The authors use this theoretical perspective to address three mysteries about religiosity, including why religious people are happier, why they are more charitable, and why most people in the world are religious.
Article
In a longitudinal study of a birth cohort, the authors identified youth involved in each of 4 different health-risk behaviors at age 21: alcohol dependence, violent crime, unsafe sex, and dangerous driving habits. At age 18, the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) was used to assess 10 distinct personality traits. At age 3, observational measures were used to classify children into distinct temperament groups. Results showed that a similar constellation of adolescent personality traits, with developmental origins in childhood, is linked to different health-risk behaviors at 21. Associations between the same personality traits and different health-risk behaviors were not an artifact of the same people engaging in different health-risk behaviors; rather, these associations implicated the same personality type in different but related behaviors. In planning campaigns, health professionals may need to design programs that appeal to the unique psychological makeup of persons most at risk for health-risk behaviors.
Article
The Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles (PICTS) is an 80-item self-report measure designed to assess crime-supporting cognitive patterns. Data from men (N = 450) and women (N = 227) offenders indicate that the PICTS thinking, validity, and content scales possess moderate to moderately high internal consistency and test-retest stability. Meta-analyses of studies in which the PICTS has been administered reveal that besides correlating with measures of past criminality, several of the PICTS thinking and content scales are capable of predicting future adjustment/release outcome at a low but statistically significant level, and two scales (En, CUR) are sensitive to program-assisted change beyond what control subjects achieve spontaneously. The factor structure of the PICTS is then examined with the aid of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the results of which denote the presence of two major and two minor factors.
Article
Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure, regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r = .50); system instability (.47); dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (-.32); uncertainty tolerance (-.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (-.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (-.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.
Article
Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.
Article
Research on self-control and related constructs is central to individual-level explanations of antisocial behavior. However, less research attention has been paid to the psychopathological underpinnings of self-control. The current study explores relationships between self-control and psychiatric symptoms, head injury, trauma history, substance use, guiltlessness and narcissistic traits in a statewide population of juvenile offenders. Results support the importance of these variables, in particular narcissistic traits, in better explicating theories of self-control. Implications for research on the psychopathological underpinnings of self-control are highlighted.
Genetic and environmental transmission of political orientations The dark triad of personality: A 10 year review
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The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion
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Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism On the relationship of past to future involvement in crime and delinquency: A behavior genetic analysis
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NIH Public Access Political attitudes vary with physiological traits
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A genome-wide analysis of liberal and conservative political attitudes The role of "dark personalities" (narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy), big five personality factors, and ideology in explaining prejudice
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