Friday, November 07, 2008

Quick Quiz

  1. Is it better for a child to demonstrate independence or respect for elders?
  2. Obedience or self-reliance?
  3. Curiosity or good manners?
  4. To be considerate or well behaved?
If you chose respect, obedience, good manners, and being well behaved, you have an authoritarian parenting style and you likely vote Republican.

If you chose independence, self-reliance, curiosity, and being considerate, you have a nurturant parenting style and you likely vote Democratic.

According to the research by political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathon Weiler, parenting style is the single best predictor of political affiliation.


I learned this and much more in the fascinating book, The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart, by Bill Bishop and Robert C. Cushing.

Aside: I know the quiz enforces a dichotomy that doesn't really exist. Both traits in each question are generally viewed as positive and one does not preclude the other. However, by forcing people to make a quick decision about which is more important, they deduce a clearer picture of core values.



  1. Doesn't surprise me in the least. I had a discussion recently with a friend who's a (relatively) new father, who said that all his conservative friends advocate controlled crying, and all his liberal friends are more go with the flow, cuddle the baby when it cries.

  2. Gee, I've had that book on my to-read list since that article came out. Better get moving. But it is interesting about the quiz; my first reaction that they are all good qualities. But I can certainly see how being forced to choose could be indicative of core values.

  3. Like you said; "or" could easily be replaced with "and". It's my opinion you cannot have one without the other :))

  4. What if you immediately thought that the questions were ill-posed? That there ought to be a sliding scale of gray answers rather than black and white? That the character traits were not mutually exclusive and that the best option was a blend?

  5. It's still only a guess, a "best predictor." It doesn't get me right, for example.

  6. It seems to me that "independence/self-reliance" is in some sense the opposite of "obedience/respect for elders.

    But "curiosity" and "good manners" are pretty much orthogonal. In certain situations it might be bad manners to display too much curiosity; in other situations it is good manners to display some curiosity about others.

    And finally, aren't being "considerate" and "well-behaved" pretty much the same thing?


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