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New Study Finds Conservatives Have a Stronger Sense of Life Purpose Than Liberals

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If you ask the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it may tell you the meaning of life is 42. But if you ask the average liberal, they may tell you there is none. 

While by no means an exact description of each individual, conservatives on the whole are more likely to express a sense of satisfaction and purpose in their lives than liberals, a new study showed. The University of California found that conservatives were more likely to say their lives are meaningful than their liberal counterparts – a belief that appears to be more closely tied to social issues than economic ones.

For the study, respondents were asked to rate themselves on a ranging political spectrum of “extremely liberal” to “extremely conservative” before responding to general statements about their views on life, such as: “I understand my life’s meaning.”

“Finding meaning in life is related to the sense or feeling that things are the way they should be, and that there is a sense of order," co-author David Newman explained, according to The Independent. 

But even when adjusting for factors like religion and socioeconomics, conservatives still displayed a stronger sense of life purpose than liberals, according to the data.

“Across five studies, conservatives reported greater meaning and purpose in life than liberals at each reporting period. This finding remained significant after adjusting for religiosity and was usually stronger than the relationships involving other well-being measures. Finally, meaning in life was more closely related to social conservatism than economic conservatism,” the study found.

Newman said that while there’s a pretty clear divide between conservatives and liberals when it comes to a sense of overall purpose, the study didn’t pinpoint exactly why, though researchers surmise it has to do with whether a person’s life feels orderly and anchored.

“A question that still needs to be addressed is why conservatives find more meaning in life than liberals,” he said.

“Our results showed that it can’t be completely explained by the fact that conservatives are more religious than liberals and religious people find more meaning in life than non-religious people. But the results suggest it is more likely related to social conservative issues (e.g., views on abortion and gay rights) than economic conservative issues,” Newman added.

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