Conservatives are more sensitive to the violation of social norms than leftists, study finds

New research published in PLOS One has found evidence that a person’s sensitivity to social rule-breaking is linked to their political orientation.

Social norms are underlying rules that guide our social behavior. These guidelines dictate what is and is not appropriate in a given situation, and people who breach them are met with negative evaluations. While social norms are widely enforced and followed, there are individual differences in sensitivity to these rules. …

The researchers found that those with a right-wing political orientation rated more items as strongly inappropriate than those with left-wing beliefs, suggesting rightists were more sensitive to the breaching of social norms. This finding fell in line with the researchers’ expectations. As the authors say, conservatives tend to have a more “rigid cognitive style” and may feel a greater need for structure and order, causing them to lean toward more stringent codes of behavior.

By Beth Ellwood,

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