Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Conservatives are mentally healthier than liberals

Ed Tom Kowalsky asks:
I've often wondered if mental illness is more common among those who self identify as liberal than those who self identify as conservative. I suspect the answer is a resounding "yes," but I don't know if there is solid evidence justifying my suspicion.
I'm not familiar with the relevant science, but a bit of googling turns up some survey results showing that Republicans are more likely than Democrats are to describe themselves as being in good mental health. Another commenter, JOhn, asserts that liberalism and neuroticism are correlated. From what I'm able to gather, the evidence for that is pretty mixed, but again, I'm really not qualified to speak on the subject.

The GSS is another natural place to turn to in seeking an answer, however, and I am qualified enough to report what its data show! In 2006, it asked respondents if they had ever received treatment for a mental health problem. That's not exactly the same as asking whether or not they had ever suffered from mental health issues--I'd guess, ceteris paribus, liberals are more likely than conservatives are to seek out medical treatment for perceived problems that cover all aspects of personal health, whether they be physical, emotional, or psychological--but it's pretty close.

The question is binary, with respondents simply answering "yes" or "no". The following table shows the percentages of people who report having received treatment for a mental health problem at some point in their lives by political orientation (n = 1,356):


So the GSS provides Ed with at least some evidence that his suspicion is correct.

GSS variables used: MHTRTSLF, POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)


Anonymous said...

This generalization is too broad, since I'm sure Caucasian Liberals will have superb mental health compared to Caucasian Conservatives. Since there's studies that shows that those in higher Academia has the least stress and hence the best health. Funny how the majority of those in Academia are Liberals, which would directly contradict this notion.

KPres said...

Eh? Academia is a tiny fraction of the population of "caucasian liberals". I doubt their influence on the results are all that significant. Granted they make a disproportionate amont of noise, though. Might lead one to think there's more of them than the reality.

Anonymous said...

"This generalization is too broad, since I'm sure Caucasian Liberals will have superb mental health compared to Caucasian Conservatives. "

Hahaha. Hahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. No.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...


Thanks for doing this.

Anon #1,

As a conservative embedded deep in the bowels of the academic beast (How's that for disgusting imagery?) I can assure you that neurosis as well as "liberalism" run utterly rampant there. Most professors are utter basket cases. Indeed, this truisim was partly responsible for my query into the relationship between "liberalism" and mental illness.

silly girl said...

Hey, I wonder whether folks who have ever been arrested or incarcerated are more likely to be liberal.

I would say that being anti social enough to end up in prison is a pretty good indicator of mental issues.

Jokah Macpherson said...

I'm not sure if any of this is sarcastic but it looks like anon 2 has a good case for laughing at anon 1 based on my poking around in the GSS. If anything, the trend is even stronger among whites. This makes sense if you consider that more blacks self-identify as "conservative" than you would expect based on their voting patterns.

silly girl, I would expect incarceration rates would follow intelligence more than anything else, so you would see lots of so-called moderates (the people who can't pass the AE's Pew current events quiz) going to the slammer. The best variable I can find on the GSS is LAW4 but it only has 35 (heh) "cases".

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 clearly didn't get my sarcasm... also haha would be sufficient, any more is a waste of space. (Double Entendre)

Conservatives should be mentally healthier, because they tend to be more religious, hence making is easier for regulation of mental health.

Liberals worry so much that actually care about people they don't even know.

Anon 1

Noah172 said...

To isolate the effect of political leanings, we should have a study of people of the same ethnicity and similar IQ levels.

So... who's nuttier: Jewish leftists or Jewish neocons? If we are going to throw around the word "neurosis" we might as well examine the people among whom it is found more often than the rest of humanity combined.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

Heh heh, Noah. Woody Allen would certainly agree. But seriously, I do agree with the need to control for IQ inasmuch as I suspect mental illness tracks with intelligence.

Audacious Epigone said...

Lots of good stuff here. I'll definitely do a follow up post taking it into account. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Certainly grouping blacks and mestizos in with liberals will make their mental illness rates soar. As low IQ doesn't alone account for the higher crime rate among blacks when matched with Whites even among prisoners, they have a higher rate of psychopathy.

Still, just from general observation liberals typically manifest a passive-aggressive personality disorder.

*unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority

*expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate

*voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune

These are the people that gave us the concept of "White privilege."

They're sick, demented and obsessive.

Anonymous said...

So... who's nuttier: Jewish leftists or Jewish neocons?

I agree, race and subrace are more correlated with IQ and mental illness than political leanings.

After all political leanings can change depending on the country and the political power a group has, e.g. Jews and blacks are more leftist when it suits them in a White nation, but when they have sovereign power in their own nation they naturally are more rightist and protective.

Anonymous said...

I suspect mental illness tracks with intelligence

Rather the strategies used and coping with mental illness tracks with IQ, not necessarily the condition itself.

Lower IQ people are more prone to criminality because they don't have enough intelligence to secure other, more legal methods of getting resources and exerting their will, and are unable to understand and manipulate the law.

A black might deal with his pathological hatred for Whites by assaulting them or killing them. A Jew will do so using the system, by publicly shaming them in the media, having them fired or expelled from school, or prosecuted for "hate crimes."

Anonymous said...

"I can assure you that neurosis as well as "liberalism" run utterly rampant there. Most professors are utter basket cases"

Remembering back to my days as a grad student working with professors, I strongly concur. Like everywhere, different personalities abound, but virtually all would score high on the narcisstic personality category.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

I wonder about the psychosis/neurosis dichotomy and how it tracks with IQ. I suspect--somewhat shakily--that psychosis is more common among the dumbs/very dumbs, while neurosis is more prevalent among the smarts/very smarts. I also suspect that neurosis--fortunately--is more widely distributed among the populace than is psychosis. But if psychosis attaches itself to low IQ, an increase in BHD will cause psychosis to become a greater problem for Americans in general.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you have not studied any of this at university whatsoever. Your analysis is a self report for those who have received therapy. What is significant is those who generally require the most therapy do not get it, and often those who seek help and receive it find they really didn't need much help after all. Lastly, (and there is more to be considered) what is the source of the original data? I doubt its even reliable. Nevertheless there is significant evidence showing that Conservatives, while largely comprised of sociopaths and meglomaniacs, do have a higher number of mental defects than non-Conservatives. It's pretty clear: being stupid and violent is clearly a problem.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, (and there is more to be considered) what is the source of the original data? I doubt its even reliable.

If you've never heard of the GSS, you shouldn't be pontificating about America social issues.


Audacious Epigone said...

The last anonymous commenter is almost beyond parody.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

True, AE. I didn't think it possible to commit 116 errors of logic in a 115-word post, but this cretin managed it.

Fat Bastard said...

Liberals are more monogamous, more intelligent and more law abiding.

punslinger said...

It has been known for some time that a near majority of liberals are below average in intelligence.

TwistedFaith86 said...

This article is laughable considering that being a conservative is actually in itself a form of mental illness.

Anonymous said...

the only thing this shows is that conservatives are less likely to get treatment OR report getting treatment than liberals.

if you had a measure of attitudes towards those that get treatment for mental health issues i bet this difference would disappear.

Liberal Tolerance said...

How many conservatives identify as a male cat trapped inside a female human?

Anonymous said...

Much research does show liberalism correlated with certain kinds of mental illnesses. This includes depression, addiction, etc. But conservatives aren't necessarily mentally healthier. They just have different issues, such as rating higher on the Dark Triad. The mental problems liberals and conservatives have might have to do with the different areas of the brain that is emphasized in each. Different brain functioning would go along with different brain malfunctioning.