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Update on the Berkeley Nursery School Study.--

[See the two UPDATES below and a newer post for information on which nursery schools were studied. These resolve some of the ambiguities discussed in this post, which I have left unedited except for the UPDATES below.]

In a long earlier post, I pointed out some problems with the Berkeley nursery school study. The more I read, the more persuaded I am that the study didn't distinguish liberals from conservatives, but rather liberals from moderates. We have to take seriously the study's admission that there were "relatively few participants tilting toward conservatism." Indeed, many of the characteristics that were attributed to the relatively conservative subjects in the study generally fit nonliberal Democrats better: e.g., the subjects were described as distrustful, worrying, anxious, and fearful, with lower intellectual capacity (and lower IQ scores), lower verbal fluency, and lower confidence. From the data and the measures used, the study probably is mostly separating liberal Democrats from nonliberal Democrats.

Support for this idea may come indirectly from a post by Michelle Malkin, who reports that it is almost certain that the nursery school that was used in the study was one run by the Berkeley Child Study Center, a school that appears to be restricted to children of Berkeley faculty and staff.

But the Block nursery school study reports:

Subjects initially (about 1969-71) were attending two different nursery schools and resided primarily in the urban areas of Berkeley and Oakland, California; they were heterogeneous with respect to social class and parents' educational level.

Perhaps I was naive, but I had assumed from this sentence in the article that two completely "different" schools were involved, perhaps one in Berkeley and one in Oakland. Now I see that in another section of the paper, the Blocks wrote:

Each child at age three was assessed by three experienced, independently functioning nursery school teachers each of whom had seen the child daily for seven months before offering their separate, well-versed evaluations. At age 4, and when in a second nursery school for seven months, each child was independently assessed again by an entirely different set of three experienced nursery school teachers functioning independently. The nursery school teachers had been selected by the nursery school head and tended to be graduate students from the University of California School of Education.

So on closer reading it appears that all of the students went from the first school to the second, which suggests (but does not establish) that both schools were part of the same organization, apparently (from Malkin's post) Berkeley's Child Study Center--which brings me to another point.

I quote the Blocks above as writing about the backgrounds of the students: "they were heterogeneous with respect to social class and parents' educational level." I don't know whether Malkin is correct that all the students at the Berkeley school were children of Berkeley staff and faculty. If they were, then the heterogeneity statement in the Blocks' statement may be highly misleading, though perhaps not literally untrue.

In the 1972 General Social Survey, only 3% of the general public had post-graduate or professional degrees. I find it hard to believe that a nursery school open only to Berkeley faculty and staff would be at all representative of the general public. (Judging from the University of Chicago's Laboratory School, whose towers I am gazing at this moment and whose classes my daughter attended from nursery school through high school, the students there were largely from families with one or more post-graduate degrees.) If the nursery school where data was collected was made up almost entirely of university kids (and I know nothing about this other than Malkin's post), then the Blocks should have informed readers how skewed in terms of education and social class the sample was. They should not have pointed readers in the opposite direction by calling the sample "heterogeneous with respect to social class and parents' educational level."

Last, if the data were collected in what was in effect one nursery school open only to the children of Berkeley faculty and staff, a liberal group if ever there was one, then it tends to support my earlier hypothesis that the sample may have so few conservatives or Republicans that the study mostly distinguishes the political left from the political center--i.e., it distinguishes the 40% of Democrats in the general public who are liberal from the other 60% of Democrats who are not.

FURTHER UPDATE: In the comments, Chris of MM pointed me to two earlier pieces by the Blocks that might have detailed information on the social class and educational backgrounds of the parents of the nursery school students. Unfortunately, they don't, but one of them confirms which nursery schools were studied and gives some additional information on the larger sample (before at least some of the attrition over time):

The children in our study were drawn from the two nursery schools constituting the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center at Berkeley . . . . One of the participating nursery schools is a university laboratory school, administered by the University of California; the second nursery school is a parent cooperative, administered by the Berkeley Public Schools. The two schools, jointly considered, attract children from heterogeneous backgrounds with regard to education, socioeconomic level, and ethnic origin. Although the sample over-represents the middle and upper-middle class, the range of socioeconomic status (SES) is wide. Sixty-one percent of the children are white, 31% are black, and the remaining 8% represent other ethnic groups, primarily Oriental and Chicano.

J.H. Block & J. Block, The role of ego-control and ego-resiliency in the organization of behavior, in W. A. Collins (Ed.), 13 The Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology 39, at 52 [1980].

This passage confirms that the students attended schools that comprise the Berkeley Child Study Center, but makes it even less clear than it was before which parents were allowed to send students there. Would the Berkeley Public Schools run a nursery school open only to university faculty and staff children? That seems unlikely.

FURTHER, FURTHER UPDATE (Sunday, 3/26): Block responded to Malkin by email and clarified which parents were allowed to send students to the two schools, a discussion I examine here. As I speculated in the FURTHER UPDATE in the preceding paragraph, one of the two nursery schools that made up the Berkeley Child Study Center was open to the community. Indeed, Block says that university kids were barred from it.

The Comment period expired on this post (and they are impossible to turn on again), so if you want to continue commenting on either of the first two posts on this topic, you may do so at the latest post.

Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Doesn't it seem a bit unusual that, around 1969-70, a nursery full of 3 and 4 year olds were subjected to rather detailed study, psychologically and educationally? You might see that as an experiment (or a test) in a daycare run by a university, but I tend to doubt you'd see it elsewhere at the time.
3.23.2006 9:39pm
Curt Wilson:
So what we've established is that whiny faculty brats become conservatives... ;-)
3.23.2006 10:12pm
deweber (mail):
I will point out that one needs to be a little careful with the temporal aspect here. While currently Berkeley(where I do live) is a little flakey,in 1969 when this study started, the faculty and town were very different.

Also note that the school accepts staff. This includes the general support people who will frequently not have advanced degrees.
3.23.2006 10:22pm
Ray (mail):
We wouldn't accept such a narrow study as objective in any other instance, why accept this one?

Especially as it stands in complete contradiction to what we know from everyday life. Referencing my last post on the earlier thread on this subject; consider libertarians and their signature free-market view point. Such a view demands self-confidence of the viewer. As opposed to the liberal who naturally favors the limited liberties of the collective. Supposed safety for freedom; such a view screams insecurity.
3.23.2006 10:38pm
David Starr (mail):
Naturally I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that unattractive and whiny kids grow to be conservatives. I'm conservative, and I was never a whiny child :-)
I did bother to get over to Michelle Malkin's and read the .pdf of the paper. I was surprized at the lack of raw data. Without the raw data, no one can check the author's statistical work. Mark Twain had it right when he said, "There's lies, damn lies, and statistics."
Then there are some missing figures. How many "conservatives" were there in this sample? Not many from Berkeley in '89 I would guess. Was it one? ten? twenty? fifty? If only one, then it's not a large enough sample. It's hard to establish the statistical significance of a data set unless you know how large it is.
I could not find a list of the "liberalness / conservativeness" score of all the subjects. Was it ranked on a scale of -1 to +1? or -1000 to +1000? Was there much or little difference from one end of the scale to the other?
The paper states that the data was "corrolated". That's a word with several different meanings in mathematics and statistics. The author didn't say which meaning he used.
Then it appears that the subjects were all Berkeley faculty brats born around 1967. Berkeley was a pretty mellow place in 1967. Do any '60's Berkeley faculty brats grow up to be real conservatives?
3.23.2006 11:14pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
This "study" is just stupid. Enough said.
3.24.2006 12:08am
Fishbane (mail):
The more I read, the more persuaded I am that the study didn't distinguish liberals from conservatives, but rather liberals from moderates.

Jim, if you don't mind, can you distinguish 'liberal' from 'moderate', from 'conservative' for us? I have what I feel is a reasonable grasp on how you use those terms based on past postings, but in all honestly, that grasp seems weaker, having read this post. So, I just wonder.
3.24.2006 12:18am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Any further studies should control for kids who didn't go to nursery schools. Some kids don't do pre-K. I didn't. (Did pre-K exist in the early 1960s?)
3.24.2006 12:29am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"While currently Berkeley(where I do live) is a little flakey,in 1969 when this study started, the faculty and town were very different."

Yes, they were all far leftist then. Berkley was a wild place back in that era. Wild. It is much more conservative now.

Prof: You live in Hyde Park? Why not on the north side. my UofC prof friend was much happier after he moved to just north of North Ave.
3.24.2006 12:41am
James Lindgren (mail):
Fishbane:

What I call conservative, moderate, or liberal are self-reports on a 1 to 7 point scale, with moderates at the midpoint.

Here is the question (POLVIEWS):


We hear a lot of talk these days about liberals and conservatives. I'm going to show you a seven-point scale on which the political views that people might hold are arranged from extremely liberal--point 1--to extremely conservative-- point 7. Where would you place yourself on this scale?

1 Extremely liberal
2 Liberal
3 Slightly liberal
4 Moderate, middle of the road
5 Slightly conservative
6 Conservative
7 Extremely conservative

Then I recode the first 3 categories as liberal, the 4th as moderate, and 5-7 as conservative.





Robert,



There are 4 reasons we live in Hyde Park:

(1) my wife used to be on the faculty at UC (when we moved here),

(2) my daughter went to the Lab School,

(3) I'm getting a PHD at UC, and

(4) we're too lazy to move.
3.24.2006 2:12am
Vorn (mail):
First of all, I think one interesting thing to note is that those who are skeptical or dislike a claim made with statistical evidence are more likely to scrutinize it and hold it up to a higher standard than claims they favor. Thus, it is not suprising that Lindgren, a conservative, happily reports that Democrats are more racist than Republicans, even if the difference is rather small and doesn't say much about differences between Democrats and Republicans in general. We don't see much qualification and limiting their, and that is probably because the level of scrutiny that Lindgren subjects claims to is correlated to whether or not he likes those claims.

Second, as the author says, the results are valid for the sample. I think they are limiting what they claim the study shows in a very reasonable way.

Third. You call it moderate, I call it MORE conservative than liberal. Its not like these labels are objective anyway.

Fourth, as a former College Republican who has finally decided that I don't like Republicans based on my assessment of what they do in power and more careful thought on my political views in law school, I think that I would not be suprised IF conservativism was correlated with whining.

Think about it. Oh no. The liberal media. *whine* Oh those liberal professors. *whine* I can't stand taxes. *whine* Those who lack bargaining power and thus are screwed when it comes to distributing value created from relationships seem envious. *whine*

And on and on it goes. As a College Republican, I remember my cowardly fellow Republicans talking about how they were afraid to speak out. I never understood. I was spoke out even if my view was in the minority...

Anyway, this is all anecdotal. Neither my experiences in particular nor the results of this particular study necessarily generalize to the larger population. However, both my anecdotal experiences and the study are consistent with the idea that conservatives are disproportionately likely to be whiners.

Perhaps the conservatives who read these comments can confirm this by whining about this study that, by the authors' own admission, contain very limited claims. Doesn't sound that rational to me, but rather consistent with the thesis that they are in fact whiners. Indeed, does Lindgren himself demonstrate irrationality by focusing so much analytical energy at a study that doesn't claim very much? Contrast with his buy-in and gleeful announcement that it is the Democrats who are racist. Somehow, the level of scrutiny that Lindgren allocates to various claims does not seem related to any rational ranking of importance, but rather how important the claim is to him on an emotional level.
3.24.2006 2:58am
Chris of MM (mail) (www):
Jim, a few questions.

First, how does Malkin know which nursery school the children went to? To my knowledge, that has never been reported in the literature. And as I am sure you know, there are many, many publications on this particular longitudinal study.

Second, since the SES data is available in other publications, is it really responsible to speculate about it blindly, based on an unsupported assertion by another blogger?

Third, while I know you're not a fan of the Jost study (though I can't yet figure out why), wouldn't you say that the converging results of the first Jost study, the second Jost study, and this study present a fairly powerful case? At the very least, wouldn't you say that you need to come up with better criticisms than being suspicious about the SES distribution or nitpicking about the IQ correlations (which are consistent with others in the literature)?

My suggestion is that before you submit the letter to any editor, you do some more research on the Block and Block longitudinal study. I think that the reference below presents the most comprehensive description, but I could be wrong (check the references to be sure). Also, since there has been only one article in the peer reviewed literature thusfar that has been critical of the Jost study, and Jost et al. have responded to those criticisms with more data(!), I'd leave out the unsupported jabs at it, without presenting specific criticisms.

Oh, and to your readers, in most journals, .05 is the highest accepted alpha level. Block and Block are using a .10 alpha level to avoid Type II error. However, if you look at the sizes of most of the correlations, and the degrees of freedom, you can guess that most of them are highly significant even at the .05 (and I'd bet many at the .01, even .001) level. On the sample size: sample size is pretty much irrelevant if a.) you get statistically significant results and b.) your sample is representative. Jim's primary argument seems to be that the sample isn't representative, but as of yet, his argument is based entirely on speculation.

Here's the refence:
Block, J. H., &Block, J. (1980). The role of ego-control and ego-resiliency in the organization of behavior. In W. A. Collins (Ed.), The Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology (Vol. 13, pp. 39-101). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (Wiley).

You might also try this one (notice the second author, a real raging liberal if there ever was one):
Block, J., Buss, D. M., Block, J. H., &Gjerde, P. (1981). The cognitive style of breadth of categorization: The longitudinal consistency of personality correlates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 770-779.
3.24.2006 3:59am
Federal Dog:
Does anyone know of any effort(s) by conservative psychologists/psychiatrists to discount leftist thinkers as intellectually deficient or psychologically impaired? The frequency of these left-of-center psychological "studies" is interesting in itself: What does it tell us about the character and political confidence of the people who engage in them? And why do these people believe that basic methodological problems that infect their claims will not be noticed by disinterested analyists?



This is a very recognizable Soviet tactic, and I would (honestly) be interested in knowing about any analogous efforts by conservative thinkers to stygmatize political dissent by claiming it is a form of mental illness or intellectual impairment.
3.24.2006 8:12am
Jeek:
Vorn, I think it is interesting to note how often valid criticism that one disagrees with is dismissed as "whining". Thus, it is not surprising that you regard conservative criticism of liberals as unjustified whining.

One could just as easily construct a case that liberalism is correlated with whining. Think about it. Oh no. Evil corporations are destroying the environment. *whine* Bush stole two elections. *whine* Bush lied us into war. *whine* America is a racist, economically unjust society. *whine* Fundamentalist Christians control the Republican party. *whine* Republicans are trying to take away women's abortion rights. *whine* And so on, and so on.

Anyway, as you say, this is all anecdotal. Neither my experiences in particular nor the results of this particular study necessarily generalize to the larger population. However, both my anecdotal experiences and the study are consistent with the idea that liberals are disproportionately likely to be whiners.
3.24.2006 8:34am
Volvodriver (mail):
It was my impression that students in the late 60s were the ones who were loud members of the radical left, and that these students were rebelling against a far more conservative, establishment-type faculty, and that during the decades since, these students have grown up into the modern Berkeley faculty that makes it embarassing to be liberal.

Am I mistaken? Did campus radicalism in the 60s extend to the faculty as well?

If not, much of the "oh, well, it was Berkeley for goodness sakes" comments" might be misplaced in a way that they would not if the kids were born to a later generation of that faculty.
3.24.2006 9:28am
SKI:
Indeed, many of the characteristics that were attributed to the relatively conservative subjects in the study generally fit nonliberal Democrats better: e.g., the subjects were described as distrustful, worrying, anxious, and fearful, with lower intellectual capacity (and lower IQ scores), lower verbal fluency, and lower confidence.

Am I readign this right? Is Lindgren really asserting that "nonliberal Democrats" are "distrustful, worrying, anxious, and fearful, with lower intellectual capacity (and lower IQ scores), lower verbal fluency, and lower confidence."?!?!

Based on what exactly?
3.24.2006 9:57am
Vorn (mail):
Jeek,

You are absolutely right that the anecdotal evidence you mention consistent with the thesis that liberals are disproportionately likely to be whiners. It illustrates nicely the challenge of generalizing from anecdotal observations.

I do think it is more slightly more significant that the College Republicans I knew were too cowardly to speak out. I am not sure I would characterize that as whining, but these particular individuals had a serious victim complex.

I think there is one thing that cannot be denied. Both the left and the right have a large number of people who whine too much.

Anyway, what I think is most interesting is not the generalization; neither the study or the anecdotal evidence you or I cite necessarily generalize. However, doesn't it tell us something about Lindgren when he accepts certain claims less critically and directs greater scrutiny at others? I am certainly not suggesting that this phenomena is limited to Lindgren; I am not trying to pick on him.
3.24.2006 10:11am
rick:
Yes, Mr. Lindgren please state the bases for the statement that SKI quotes. Also, I'm not sure I understand why "moderate" has been trasnformed into "non-liberal democrats", when they could just as easily be "non-conservative republicans" or "apolitical", or just plain old "moderate". I'm sure there's a basis for the statement.

Finally, I've often gotten the impression that support staff, janitors, and the like are invisible to professors, but they do exist and would generally fit into the category of "staff". They also are unlikely to hold advanced degrees.
3.24.2006 10:13am
K Ashford (mail):
I think the problem isn't with the study, which fully acknowledges some of the limitations raised here and elsewhere.

For example, the study does not claim to be representative of the general population of liberals vs. conservatives. It simply stated that in their sample, the kids grew up, and fell within various places on the liberal-to-conservative continuum. And those who skewed more conservative/liberal had certain characteristics as a child (to a statistically significant degree).

The problem, if any, was the media reporting of the study. Many have latched on to the word "whiny", although the study itself does not use the word.

But the study does use other adjectives. For example, kids who grew to be "conservative" were, as children, more "moralistic" and "rigid". Kids who grew up to be "liberal" tended, as children, to be "make simple things complex".

Does any of that sound earth-shattering? I read stuff like that and went "Duh". I suggest that others do so, too.
3.24.2006 10:17am
rick:
Just to follow up on what K said, and despite my snarky-ish comment above, when I first read about this I immediately categorized it as not particulary trustworthy and not worth anyone's serious attention. I suspect most felt the same way.
3.24.2006 10:23am
Dan Collins (mail):
Moderates are whiny because they're so extreme, and realists are whiny because they're so deluded.
3.24.2006 10:25am
Dan Collins (mail):
But mostly the consevative kids are whiny because the liberal kids bully them all the time. Bastards.
3.24.2006 10:41am
Kovarsky (mail):
Chris,

First, how does Malkin know which nursery school the children went to? To my knowledge, that has never been reported in the literature. And as I am sure you know, there are many, many publications on this particular longitudinal study.

Someone posted on her website that he knew people that participated in what seemed to be this longitudinal study, and that they all went to __ school in berkeley. nobody has really confirmed it to my knowledge, although it seems likely from the wording of the study. students in that school are technically in 2 different schools between 3 and 4, which is consistent with the language of the study.

this is all so bizarre - who cares about who was mroe confident when they were three. that doesn't bear any real relationship to who is right or wrong on anything now. and to the group of you here who wishfully attribute this analysis to everyone with whom you disagree, and attempt to use it to color them as malicious. please stop. it's as unflattering as the behavior you're considering.
3.24.2006 10:59am
llm (mail):
You should check with Berkeley's Child Study Center about the attendees at the time Block's initial study was done. For the past 5-6 years the center has been limited to the children of Berkeley faculty, students, and staff, but for many years it was open to the public at large.
3.24.2006 12:39pm
anon6:
Why the firestorm response from the conservative circles over this silly study? Its obvious that, given the non-ideal conditions under which it was carried out, that any conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt. This seemingly urgent desire to undermine the results of this rather innocuous study only seem to reinforce the central claim of the study: that conservatives are whiny and insecure.
3.24.2006 1:31pm
amliebsch:
Why the firestorm response from the conservative circles over this silly study?

It probably has a lot to do with the way it is being trumpeted by the media as conclusive proof that conservatives are just whiny losers. It's not whining to defend oneself against slanders, unless maybe you'd prefer an old-fashioned duel.
3.24.2006 2:03pm
rick:
"Slanders"? "Trumpeted by the media"?

I just did a google news search on "conservatives berkeley whiny" and didn't find a whole lot. About half of what I did find were conservatives slamming the report. That's fine, maybe it deserves it (like I said earlier it doesn't seem like a particularly trustworthy type of report).

But it's statements like "trumpeted by the media" when it's not being trumpeted by the media, and "slander" when it's not slander that makes conservatives sound, well, whiny.
3.24.2006 2:20pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
About half of what I did find were conservatives slamming the report.

Although the methodology of the study may be deeply flawed, the reaction to the study from conservatives seems to verify its findings.
3.24.2006 2:46pm
anon6:
I think Rick is correct; there hasn't been much about this in the mainstream media. Again, I admit that the study is flawed and shouldn't be taken too seriously, but even if it is correct, so what? If whiny kids grow up to be conservative, who cares? One's behavior as a four year old, or as a fourteen year old for that matter, shouldn't really have any bearing on our judgment of that person when they are an adult. If I interpreted this study correctly, it said that "whiny kids grow up to be conservative", not "conservatives are whiny". The only way there is any sort of insult or slander is if the results are misinterpreted.

So, even if the study is correct (again, which I don't believe it to be), why would it be anything more than an interesting bit of trivia? I guess I just don't see why its so important to prove this study wrong--who cares if someone says "You're a conservative? Oh, you must have been insecure as a child." If you really were a whiny kid, than they are correct in their assumption. If you weren't a whiny kid and you know this to be the case, then let people know this if they confront you with such a comment. If you're like me and you don't remember what your disposition was like when you were four years old, you probably wouldn't give a damn about what people might try to infer about your personality while in pre-school.
3.24.2006 3:02pm
Mr L (mail):
Although the methodology of the study may be deeply flawed, the reaction to the study from conservatives seems to verify its findings.

Yes, I for one find it astounding that a study that attempts to infantalize conservatives by claiming that they're really just big babies should be primarily criticized by conservatives. One wonders where the vaunted 'reality-based community' is hiding in the face of politically slanted non-science such as this. Oh, I'm sure they'll figure out this stuff is bunkum the damned instant the right starts throwing the same techniques back in their face.
3.24.2006 3:43pm
Ray (mail):
At first it seemed that people were focusing on IQ and self-confidence. The whiny things is so subjective as to hardly be worthy of conversation. One person's valid complaint is another's whine. That's about all that can said with any credibility.

Another thing, outside of the terribly important aspect of who whines the most, most people are not addressing what we know from common sense. A strong sense of individualism is the hallmark of the genuine conservative/libertarian whereas liberalism, broadly speaking, prefers the collective.

Individualism demands self-confidence whereas the collective thrives on those on a lack self-confidence.
3.24.2006 5:22pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Rick:I just did a google news search on "conservatives berkeley whiny" and didn't find a whole lot.

Rick, did you think to try "conservatives berkeley"? You'll find quite a media articles reporting on the study; possibly enough to justify the statement "trumpeted by the media".
3.24.2006 6:38pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Although the methodology of the study may be deeply flawed, the reaction to the study from conservatives seems to verify its findings.


Let's ask Lawrence Summers if conservatives whine more than liberals.

Individualism demands self-confidence whereas the collective thrives on those on a lack self-confidence.


Being a passive recipient of collective planning requires lack of self-confidence, while being one of the elites who do the collective planning requires overconfidence.
3.25.2006 2:13am
James Lindgren (mail):
Rick wrote:

Finally, I've often gotten the impression that support staff, janitors, and the like are invisible to professors, but they do exist and would generally fit into the category of "staff". They also are unlikely to hold advanced degrees.


___

Of course. My argument was that there would, however, be so many children whose parents had advanced degrees (compared to the 3% in the general public) that it would be misleading to say just that the group was "heterogeneous."

My suspicions were born out on this point in that when they described the sample in 1980, they felt the need to admit that the sample "over-represents the middle and upper-middle class."
3.25.2006 3:16am
James Lindgren (mail):
I wrote:

Indeed, many of the characteristics that were attributed to the relatively conservative subjects in the study generally fit nonliberal Democrats better: e.g., the subjects were described as distrustful, worrying, anxious, and fearful, with lower intellectual capacity (and lower IQ scores), lower verbal fluency, and lower confidence.

SKI replied:

Am I readign this right? Is Lindgren really asserting that "nonliberal Democrats" are "distrustful, worrying, anxious, and fearful, with lower intellectual capacity (and lower IQ scores), lower verbal fluency, and lower confidence."?!?!

Based on what exactly?


____
My comments are based on studies of representative samples of the general public, not studies of college students as many of the social psych. studies are.

TRUST. A standard question on TRUST was developed by the Adorno group in the late 1940s and used in a number of studies of the general public for a half century. In GSS surveys of over 27,000 people since 1974, 41% of both conservatives and liberals believe that generally people can be trusted, compared to only 37% of moderates. In about 20 GSS studies since 1972 (over 30,000 respondents), 46% of Republicans are trusting, compared to 39% of Independents and 37% of Democrats.

NEGATIVE EMOTIONS. In the 1996 GSS, respondents were asked on how many days in the last week they were anxious, on how many days worried, and on how many days fearful. 31% of conservatives didn't feel anxious on even one day, compared to 27% of moderates and 24% of liberals. The corresponding numbers not feeling worried were 33%, 30%, and 27%. The numbers not feeling fearful were 59.5%, 59%, and 56%. Of the 3 party affiliations, independents came out the most anxious, Democrats the most worried, and independents the most fearful. Asked whether people were afraid to walk in their own neighborhoods at night, Democrats were significantly more likely to express fear. If one looks at the mean number of days in the last week on which people felt anxious, worried, or fearful, conservatives had the lowest mean scores of the three political orientations on on all three questions. Similarly, of the three party IDs, Republicans reported the fewest number of days of these three negative emotions. Not all of the differences in means noted in this paragraph are statistically significant, but most are.

EDUCATION AND SOCIAL CLASS. As far as education (and social class more generally), there is massive evidence that conservatives score higher than moderates and that Republicans score higher than Democrats.

In the 1974-2002 GSS, conservatives have

• higher final educational degree (DEGREE, r=.064***),
• more years of education (EDUC, r=.064***),
• higher family income in real dollars (REALINC, r=.083***),
• higher personal income in real dollars (REALRINC, r=.098***),
• higher subjective social class identification (CLASS, r=.078***), and
• higher scores on a socio-economic index based on occupational prestige, education, and income (SEI, r=.066***).

Much of these data combine 22 national cross-sectional GSS surveys from 1974 through 2002, the sample sizes ranging from 18,453 for socio-economic index to 36,380 for the highest year of education completed, with over 32,000 respondents as well for degree, family income, and subjective class identification. The odds that sampling error could have resulted in conservatives reporting having completed higher years of education, when they really had a lower years of education, is extraordinarily low.

The ANES data for from two to fifteen studies from 1972 through 2000 show the same patterns. Compared to non-conservatives, conservatives have:

• higher education, as measured by all three differently coded scales (EDUCATION, 1972-2000, r=.053*** to r=.055***),
• higher income (INCOME, 1972-2000, r=.098***),
• higher socio-economic index (SEI, 1976-84, r=.067***),
• higher socio-economic index for head of household (SEIHEAD, 1976-84, r=.062***),
• higher socio-economic status (SES, 1972-74, r=.091***),
• higher socio-economic status for head of household (SESHEAD, 1972-74, r=.067***),
• higher occupational prestige (NORC, 1976-82, r=.083***),
• higher occupational prestige for head of household (NORCHEAD, 1976-82, r=.081***), and
• higher subjective social class (CLASS, 1972-2000, r=.089***).

In the ANES data, liberals (compared to non-liberals) show higher levels of education and a higher socio-economic index when that was measured in the 1976-84 years, but liberals have significantly lower incomes. For the other six measures of social class, there were no differences between liberals and non-liberals, despite sample sizes ranging from 2,662 to 16,527 subjects. Overall, liberals are in the middle in social class, with higher educations and lower incomes than non-liberals.

At the bottom on the normal indicators of social class in the ANES are political moderates, who reported significantly lower scores, not only overall, but on almost every individual study:

• lower education, as measured by all three differently coded scales (EDUCATION, 1972-2000, r=-.152*** to r=-.153***),
• lower income (INCOME, 1972-2000, r=-.069***),
• lower socio-economic index (SEI, 1976-84, r=-.099***),
• lower socio-economic index for head of household (SEIHEAD, 1976-84, r=-.081***),
• lower socio-economic status (SES, 1972-74, r=-.101***),
• lower socio-economic status for head of household (SESHEAD, 1972-74, r=-.085***),
• lower occupational prestige (NORC, 1976-82, r=-.092***),
• lower occupational prestige for head of household (NORCHEAD, 1976-82, r=-.073***), and
• lower subjective social class (CLASS, 1972-2000, r=-.096***).

In this comment, I do not want to go into the international ISSP data in detail on social class, but the overall pattern in other countries is generally the same in the 18 ISSP studies in 1997 as in the U.S. Those respondents with conservative or right-wing party orientations have significantly more years of education than non-conservatives in Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, and Russia.

But there are exceptions in Canada and Slovenia, where conservative party adherents are indeed significantly less educated. These preliminary ISSP results suggest that the U.S. pattern of conservatives being better educated than non-conservatives is generally true, though it does not hold everywhere in the world.

Further, if Republicans are better educated and education strongly correlates with score on "intelligence" tests, then why do some authoritarianism studies show large I.Q. deficits for those who score high on the Adorno F-Scale? (Christie, 1958; Jost et al.) Wouldn't it be more likely to find I.Q. deficits among Democrats, who tend both to be more poorly educated and to be less conservative? Indeed, Democrats score poorly on a short vocabulary test in 15 General Social Surveys (1974-2000 and one analogical reasoning test (1994 GSS).

In the GSS, Democrats score significantly worse than non-Democrats (using an independent samples T-Test without assuming equal variances) on a 10-question vocabulary test and an 8-question word similarity test, whether refusals to answer are coded as errors or cases with refusals are omitted from the analyses. The probabilities for the two ways of coding the 15 vocabulary tests (1974-2000) together are <.0005 for either way of handling missing data. For the word analogical reasoning test given in 1994, the significance is .010 for listwise deletion of cases with any nonresponses and .005 if nonresponses are treated as erroneous.

If one breaks down the data by both party identification and political orientation, the most conservative subgroup is conservative Republicans. Yet this group fairly consistently has scores that are below the mean in authoritarianism. Indeed, the subgroup closest to conservative Republicans in many tables reporting on authoritarian items is liberal Democrats, who should be at the opposite end of the spectrum, if authoritarianism and conservatism were part of the same syndrome or were equivalent.

The primary reason that conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats show similar scores on authoritarianism questions is that authoritarianism is negatively related to education and conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are usually the best educated subgroups.

This educational difference has implications for analyses of conservatism more generally. In every General Social Survey from 1974 through 2002, conservative respondents have higher mean years of education, though the difference was not always significant. The smallest conservative educational advantage compared to non-conservatives is .24 years of education in 1993. The smallest Republican advantage is .42 years of education in 1978. The smallest conservative Republican advantage is .52 in 1976, but in the seven General Social Surveys from 1991-2002, the smallest advantage is over a full year of education.

Accordingly, if a US researcher now uses a measure of conservatism that does not show an educational advantage of at least .24 years of education for conservatives (whether or not this difference is statistically significant with one's sample size), one should worry about the measure's validity for measuring conservatism. Nor is this finding special to the GSS; the conservative educational advantage is usually at least as high in the American National Election Studies (ANES) as in the GSS. Along the same lines, if the most conservative third of one's sample of conservatives (corresponding to the most conservative subgroup in the general population, conservative Republicans) does not show substantially more education than others in the sample (the conservative Republican advantage is about a year in the GSS), then one's conservative measure is also suspect.

I hope this answers some of your questions.
3.25.2006 4:09am
James Lindgren (mail):
Chris of MM wrote in part:

First, how does Malkin know which nursery school the children went to? To my knowledge, that has never been reported in the literature. And as I am sure you know, there are many, many publications on this particular longitudinal study.

Response:

I really appreciate your thoughtful (and evidence-based) questions--and the two cites.

On which schools were used, Malkin actually had some pretty good evidence, which I have now confirmed by reading one of the articles you pointed me to (see the Further Update above).

Second, since the SES data is available in other publications, is it really responsible to speculate about it blindly, based on an unsupported assertion by another blogger?

Response:

Neither of the publications you cited me to has the SES info in it, though other publications from the study may well have it. Actually, I think a blog is a good place to speculate about it because it may flesh out the information I'm seeking. Also, if the SES data is in fact published elsewhere (which it may be), then it would be very bad form for the Blocks not to cite the location of that information while describing the sample in the nursery school study. If the SES data have been published elsewhere, I think your criticism would be better directed at Block for not citing it at the appropriate spot.

Jim's primary argument seems to be that the sample isn't representative, but as of yet, his argument is based entirely on speculation.

Response:

My argument is two-fold: bad samples and bad measures. And I have asked Block for his data to sort out the relative contribution of each, which he has said he can't release until later. It is not fair to say that even my sampling "argument is based entirely on speculation." As I emphasize in my post, "We have to take seriously the study's admission that there were 'relatively few participants tilting toward conservatism.'" My primary evidence for my sampling complaint is their own admission. I am speculating mostly about why their sample would be skewed and what that might mean for the study, not whether it is skewed.

Third, while I know you're not a fan of the Jost study (though I can't yet figure out why), wouldn't you say that the converging results of the first Jost study, the second Jost study, and this study present a fairly powerful case? At the very least, wouldn't you say that you need to come up with better criticisms than being suspicious about the SES distribution or nitpicking about the IQ correlations (which are consistent with others in the literature)?

Response:

You are quite right to be skeptical about my comments, since I will need a lot of evidence to persuade a fair-minded reader of the basic defects in the existing literature. That will be what I try to do in the first two chapters of my Ph.D. thesis.

For now, I would point out that the Jost Meta-Analysis has 88 samples, but (1) no representative samples of the US population, (2) no adult samples in the US that are not of specialized populations (students, the young, clergy, etc), and (3) no national representative samples of any country. If someone were to do a meta-analysis of the field of conservatism research and limit themselves only to studies that fit the strictest criteria (national representative samples), none of Jost's 88 studies would make the cut. Nearly all of the studies I reference in this thread would meet this higher criterion.

If you read my recent comments above, I think you can guess why I don't credit the Jost study when it conflicts with data from national representative samples, which is most of the time when its claims can be checked. He is correct on a few issues (like evolution, gay rights, and gender roles), but he is wrong on his central arguments about fear and a preference for inequality.

And he uses several measures of who is a conservative that have never been shown to correlate significantly with conservatives in the general public, let alone to do so in a way that doesn't skew the results toward dumber conservatives.

For example, he treats the F-scale, not just as a correlate of conservatism, but as a measure of it. Yet I have analyzed 26 nationally representative studies asking F-scale questions starting with the 1952 ANES. I have yet to find a single one in which conservatives score significantly higher on F-scale questions than moderates, or a single one where Republicans score significantly higher than Democrats.

If you know of any, please let me know. I asked Jost at a dinner the night before an APSA panel we were on, and he responded that there were hundreds, but he couldn't name one off the top of his head. There may well be one or two or three, but I haven't found them yet.

If conservatism and authoritarianism are part of the same syndrome or if the F-Scale is a good measure of political conservatism itself, one would expect to find some evidence of this. Yet overall conservatives are less authoritarian than moderates and Democrats are more authoritarian than non-Democrats. How can the F-Scale be a measure of conservatism if self-described conservatives and conservative Republicans tend to score as less authoritarian?

That means some of what Jost reports actually confirms my contentions. When he shows that people who score higher on the F-scale show various negative characteristics, in political terms, he is actually showing that nonliberal Democrats have these characteristics, since nonliberal Democrats are usually the highest scoring F-scale political group.

The Wilson C-scale has similar problems in that several of its components (particularly superstition) fit nonliberal Democrats, not conservatives generally.

Again, you are quite reasonable to be skeptical of my claims (I probably would be in your shoes), but my claims (unlike much of the social psych literature) are usually grounded in nationally representative studies of the US public. I'm afraid that you will have to await my publication of enough evidence to persuade rational, evidence-based commenters such as yourself.
3.25.2006 5:06am
John Rosenberg (mail) (www):
Jim - Your earlier post had this observation:

The study claims that those who were relatively conservative at age 23 were originally evaluated by their nursery school teachers as uncertain, guilty, and rigid. The supposedly conservative boys "were especially viewed as deviant from their peers and sensitive to being different."

Query: If the study had been done in, say, Mississippi back then, might it not have found that the little liberals "were especially viewed as deviant from their peers"?
3.25.2006 12:14pm
James Lindgren (mail):
John Rosenberg:

Query: If the study had been done in, say, Mississippi back then, might it not have found that the little liberals "were especially viewed as deviant from their peers"?


Perhaps.
3.25.2006 2:00pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Personally, I found this bit (about the nursery-schol cohort) rather amazing:

The two schools, jointly considered, attract children from heterogeneous backgrounds with regard to education, socioeconomic level, and ethnic origin. Although the sample over-represents the middle and upper-middle class, the range of socioeconomic status (SES) is wide. Sixty-one percent of the children are white, 31% are black, and the remaining 8% represent other ethnic groups, primarily Oriental and Chicano.

Never mind "Oriental," which I thought had disappeared down the memory hole. But how do you even find a nursery school that is 31% Black vs. 8% total Chicano AND Asian-American AND "other" (presumably including Latinos and Native Amricans) combined? Especially in Berkeley?
3.25.2006 4:33pm