Different Types of Love scale
The Different Types of Love scale is a 40-item measure of loving feelings toward four different groups. Participants indicate agreement with statements concerning friends […], family […], generic others […], and their romantic partner […]
Table 4 shows that libertarians showed the lowest levels of loving feelings toward others, across all four categories (although the difference with conservatives on love for friends was not significant).
Consistent with the results on the Identification with All of Humanity scale, the libertarian independence from others is associated with weaker loving feelings toward friends, family, romantic partners, and generic others. It is noteworthy that differences between liberals and conservatives were generally small (except toward generic others). Libertarians were the outliers.
You’ll always be my bro, though. These results come from a paper by a bunch of moral psychologists, including Jonathan Haidt. I’ve blogged about the paper before, in regards to intelligence. (Libertarians are smarter than conservatives and liberals, remember? It turns out that we are bigger jerks, too.)
My intuition tells me that this is an incomplete analysis, though (the paper’s authors say as much, up front, in the paper itself). It’s not that libertarians are less loving than conservatives and liberals, it’s simply that we show our love in a different way, most likely in a way that isn’t represented in the sampling process. Libertarians could not, for example, be the ardent internationalists that we are without some measure of “love” for humanity.
Here is an example of what I mean. Suppose I am walking down the street and I see a bum with a cardboard sign and a tip jar (a paper cup from Carl’s Jr). The bum is drunk, and a little stoned. I say to myself, “Damn, that guy is in a crappy situation.” I reach into my pockets to see if I’ve got some change or, better yet, a couple of cigarettes. I am comfortable in claiming that most libertarians – sans those raised on the Atlantic coast of the US – go through the same thought process. If I put myself in that guy’s shoes, anything more than what I spare for him becomes a nuisance to me. Does this make sense? So if I’m panhandling, and somebody tries to do more than give me their change or spare me a couple of smokes, they become a pain in my ass. Why would I want to be a pain in our hypothetical bum’s ass?
This same thought process can be attributed to family, friends, and romantic partners. We’re not being jerks, we’re respecting your autonomy. I know for a fact that this can be a shallow admission of truth for some to hear, but it’s the truth nonetheless.
The libertarian’s outlier-ness in regards to conceptions about love may explain why we have such a tough time politically. (Our superior cognitive skills, which prompts us to be more open to getting at the truth of some matter, also goes some way toward explaining why we fail politically, as politics is emphatically about avoiding the truth.)
Morality (“love”) is simply one of a number of different spheres of conception about how the world works (including, say, economics, history, or sociology). However, morality is often the only sphere that people can afford to use to make judgments about this or that policy or social puzzle. This is because the training that is required to understand more complex topics like economics or sociology is expensive (“time”) and hard to come by. So, for example, there are a number of explanations for why foreign aid to Somalia is bad. You can use historical explanations or sociological ones or economic arguments, but the first – and often only – line of reasoning used by most people is moral in nature. Thus:
Giving money to poor countries is morally wrong.
Not exactly a game-winner, right? Look at what a jerk you are. Should we, as libertarians, be spending more time explaining to others why we think the way we do?