Study: Conservatives find more meaning in life than liberals

A University of California study suggests that liberals spend more time in their lives searching for meaning than do conservatives.

Jonathan Benedek,

Life goals
Life goals

A University of California study suggests that those who identify politically as being liberal are more likely than conservatives to invest time in their lives searching for meaning.

According to one of the authors, conservatives appear more likely to have their lives in order.

"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," explained co-author David Newman to The Independent.

"If life feels chaotic, then that would likely dampen your sense that life is meaningful."

The surveys were conducted across 16 countries. The participants identified their positions on the political spectrum that ranged from “extremely conservative” to “extremely liberal.” Each participant was also asked to answer if he or she understood his or her “life’s meaning.”

Newman noted that the study is not universally applicable.

"It doesn't mean that every conservative finds a lot of meaning in their life and that every liberal is depressed," he said.

"These factors range from various personal characteristics such as how religious someone is to situational influences such as one's current mood.”

Newman believes that such factors should be investigated in further research.

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

“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.”