This Valentine's Day, Hug a Liberal

Posted: Feb 14, 2013 12:05 PM

Image courtesy of CRAFT Media

This Valentine's Day, when it seems like there's no love lost between members of opposition parties on Capitol Hill, remember one important thing: how you treat your fellow humans is more important than your political beliefs.

We're conservatives, after all, and we're happier people. So liberals need your love more. Pretty much across the board, as Arthur Brooks' research has found conservatives are happier than liberals - although it's important to note that extremist liberals are happier than moderate liberals. "Moderate liberals" are the most unhappy group of all. So despite all the anger conservatives may feel toward President Obama, take solace: they're still happier on average than liberals.

It's not necessarily that being a conservative makes people happy. It's that conservatives are more likely to engage in some of the behaviors that make people happy. Brooks has found that things like marriage, religious belief, and gun ownership all are highly correlated with happiness.

Brooks wrote last year of a common counterpoint:

So conservatives are ignorant, and ignorance is bliss, right? Not so fast, according to a study from the University of Florida psychologists Barry Schlenker and John Chambers and the University of Toronto psychologist Bonnie Le in the Journal of Research in Personality. These scholars note that liberals define fairness and an improved society in terms of greater economic equality. Liberals then condemn the happiness of conservatives, because conservatives are relatively untroubled by a problem that, it turns out, their political counterparts defined.

Imagine the opposite. Say liberals were the happy ones. Conservatives might charge that it is only because liberals are unperturbed by the social welfare state’s monstrous threat to economic liberty. Liberals would justifiably dismiss this argument as solipsistic and silly.

Conservatives are happy people, and it's important to remember that on Valentine's Day. In the spirit of President Barack Obama, maybe it's time for some redistribution of happiness: hug a liberal. They really need it.