OK. It’s kind of hard to take this article  too seriously when it’s an ad for the outlandish 60 Minutes Yahoo series on “The Science of Sexuality” is next to it (see my earlier post: 60 Minutes: Gay or Straight, which examined the show’s study of, for instance, whether there a gay or straight way of speaking).

It’s the whole nature/nurture thing.

People who are more conscientious and prefer order, structure and closure in their lives tend to be more conservative, whereas creative people who are open to new experiences tend to be more politically liberal, says John Jost, a psychologist at New York University who conducted an overview of previous studies involving a total of more than 22,000 participants from 12 countries.

But that psychological profile only pulls half the weight when it comes to determining people’s politics, his review showed. The other half is genetic, as is revealed in studies of twins and their political bent, Jost says.

I like order and structure (you should see our home office — thank the heavens for Dymo labelmakers), but we’re talking about generalizations. But Jost goes on and mentions one thing we can all agree on — the Bush Admin milked the fear factor of 9/11 hard to manipulate voters.

Jost?s findings, detailed in American Psychologist, suggest that environmental factors, or the types of situations people encounter in their lives, determine approximately half of their political preferences.

For example, when people fear death or terrorism, or are in a state of uncertainty, they tend to become more conservative, he said. A study of World Trade Center survivors after 9/11 reported that 38 percent grew more conservative in the 18 months following the attacks, as compared with only 13 percent who became more liberal.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding