It’s no secret that the political divide between conservatives and liberals can seem more like a giant chasm. A new study by the Pew Research Group has found that the differences don’t end with ideology, though. Liberals and conservatives value different types of communities and living environments, which means that liberals and conservatives may not even live near one another.
A Divided Country
Thirty-eight percent of the population identifies as conservative, while just 23% embrace a liberal identity. The percentage of Americans who identify as liberals has been steadily rising since 2005, though, according to research from Gallup. The number of people who strongly identify as liberal or conservative is also increasing. Since 1994, the number of people whose opinions are either “consistently liberal” or “consistently conservative” has doubled. This increasing polarization might help explain the polarization of the country as a whole.
Differences between Liberals and Conservatives
The Pew Research Center’s study is based on interviews with self-identified liberals and conservatives. Researchers found some significant differences in preferences and personality between liberals and conservatives, including:
- Thirty-six percent of Republicans deem Democrats a “threat to the nation’s well-being,” compared to 27% of Democrats who believe Republicans pose a threat.
- Seventeen percent of all Republicans say they’d be very unhappy if a family member married a Democrat, compared to 7% of Democrats who would rather not welcome a Republican into their family.
- Liberals prefer smaller houses in communities where schools, restaurants, and entertainment are within walking distance. Conservatives prefer larger houses spaced farther apart, with stores, restaurants, and schools several miles away.
- Liberals value racial and ethnic diversity in their community, while conservatives prioritize shared religious faith.
- More than three times as many liberals (73%) as conservatives (23%) say they want to live near art museums and theaters.
- Half of conservatives and 35% of liberals report that they’d prefer to live in a location where others share their political views.
- Nearly six times as many conservatives (23%) as liberals (4%) would be dismayed to see a family member marry a person of a different race.
Liberals and conservatives weren’t divided on every issue, though. Both groups want to live near family and prefer neighborhoods with excellent public schools. Likewise, strong liberals and strong conservatives were more likely to seek out like-minded people and to avoid discussing politics with people who don’t share their political views.
- Holland, J. (2014, June 13). Study: Politically engaged liberals and conservatives don’t want to be neighbors. Moyers & Company. Retrieved from http://billmoyers.com/2014/06/13/study-politically-engaged-liberals-and-conservatives-dont-want-to-be-neighbors/
- Jones, J. M. (2014, January 10). Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013. Gallup Politics. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/166787/liberal-self-identification-edges-new-high-2013.aspx
- Political polarization and personal life. (2014, June 12). Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/section-3-political-polarization-and-personal-life/
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.