The Federal budget was finally passed by the U.S. Congress at the last possible hour this past Friday before a complete shut-down of the government, which would have disrupted services in the U.S. and abroad. Debates between the Republicans and Democrats have become more intractable and heated recently regarding spending and deficit reduction.
In research conducted by Sheldon and Nichols (2009), participants who identified as Republican or Democrat differed on the importance they assigned to extrinsic and intrinsic values. Republicans were higher on extrinsic values (money, popularity, and image) than Democrats, while Democrats were higher on intrinsic values (intimacy, helping, and growth). In other research, when threat from the outgroup party was present (versus not present), people who identify as political conservatives had high Social Dominance Orientation scores (endorsement of social hierarchy). However, self-identifying liberals in the threat condition had low SDO scores (Morrison & Ybarra, 2009).
It might be difficult to generalize research on undergraduate samples to political representatives in Washington, D.C., but these findings highlight potential differences in values and threat responses between the political parties making important decisions for the future of the United States. Nevertheless, these differences should not prevent necessary cooperation and compromise.
To read more:
Morrison, K. R. and Ybarra, O. (2009). Symbolic threat and social dominance among liberals and conservatives: SDO reflects conformity to political values. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 1039 – 1052.