Who has more self control: left-wing people or right?

No, this is not a test. Genuine research has been conducted to determine how our political affiliations influence our behaviour, specifically our self-control.

Considering the way people identify as “left” or “right”, often as a defining factor of their personality, surprisingly little is known about the connection between self-control and our political ideologies. So researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara set out to examine just this.

Using attention regulation and task persistence as the metrics, researchers hoped to broaden our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that impact self-control, as well as providing another way to explore the differences between conservatives and liberals. Until now, research has focused education, income, and intelligence.

Three studies, involving more than 400 people, found that those who identify as being conservative were more likely to exhibit self-control.

In other words, people who hang to the right side of politics – LNP, Family First, Republicans supporters – are more in control of their behaviour, compared to those sitting on the left side of the fence – Labor, Greens and Democrats supporters, for example.

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Researchers believe the relationship between political bent and self-control relates to our perception of free will.

Lefties tend to see the world as being governed by forces outside their control, such as government, society or the environment; whereas right-wing or conservative people are more likely to believe in free will, and that they have influence over their own lives.

Researchers found that as belief in free will expanded, so too did the lean towards the right.

The study also found conservatively minded people tended to better at university because they were prepared to study harder, but that the left generally showed more intelligence. In fact, the lower a person’s intelligence, the more likely they were to lean towards the right.

The study did not examine whether political leanings influenced the ability to resist eating the last Tim Tam in the packet.

 Tell us: what you think about these findings?