, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 353-367
Date: 10 Nov 2012

Conservatives Can Relax: A(n Ethical) Reanalysis of “Bad News”

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A recent article in Neuroethics posited “bad news for conservatives,” on the basis of survey data collected on line. On the basis of bivariate correlations between self-reported conservatism/liberalism and a variety of moral propositions, the author inferred that those moral judgments were ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’ Then, based on a series of bivariate correlations between those same moral propositions and measures of “morally worrisome” personality characteristics, the author concluded that conservatives tended to have these morally worrisome characteristics. Unfortunately, the original article was replete with methodological and statistical errors. This paper presents a reanalysis of the data from the original article, using good statistical and methodological technique. The reanalysis suggests that there are some small but potentially theoretically meaningful relationships between some moral propositions and three morally worrisome (antisocial) personality characteristics. The data also suggest that these relationships can change substantially depending on other conditions, so should not yet be generalized.