Why conservatives are happier than liberals, and how liberals can close the gap

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I’m a liberal and I’m happy more often than not.

This is research from the Deseret News?

In the last few years (and this has accelerated during the pandemic), I’ve found myself becoming more socially conservative, whereas before I was very left wing (I’ve never considered myself to be a “liberal” in the American sense of the word).

Without a doubt, I’ve found myself feeling more happy and grateful for my life now that I’ve mostly abandoned the victim narrative of the left. It also helps that I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading books from people who encourage the opposite of it.

One of the initial sparks that got me to seriously question my left-wing beliefs was when Jordan Peterson exploded on the scene. Even though I didn’t agree with at least 50% of the things he said back then, the sheer hatred he aroused from my people on the left for simply telling people to take stock of their own lives startled me and made me wonder what was going on.

I’m working class and a so-called “person of colour” (to use that ridiculous American term that’s been creeping into British-English usage). For most of my life I thought everything was stacked up against me and my country hated me. It’s no surprise that conservatives who reject this ideology are happier, especially when they embrace family, religion, and hard work. I’m really glad I spent years being left wing, so that if I ever have children I can do everything I can to steer them away from the poisonous parts of it.


Fascinating. Q supporters and white nationalists are certainly filled with hatred, and they are almost always “republicans” in the US. They’re all Trump supporters, at least. But if a raging fire of anger makes you happy cuz you still have “close family relationships”, I’m not one to judge.

For me, my family relationships are strong. I don’t understand why the political spectrum is “one or the other”. I, like the majority of Americans, despise the two-party system, and consider myself to be absolutely neither. And I’m quite happy with my life, except that politicians that I can choose to represent me don’t represent anyone but themselves

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It seems to me that the causality runs the other direction, or at least in a self-reinforcing circle. People who are basically happy are the sort of person others like to have around, so they’re more likely to have stable marriages and happy families (and probably well-paying jobs). Since the “work hard and look after your family” ethic has worked out for them, they’ll consider that to be a belief system with some empirical support in their personal experience.

Conversely, miserable gits who can’t play nice with others are less likely to have strong family relationships (or any relationship at all), and perhaps more likely to have a shit job (because nobody wants to employ a high-maintenance whiner). If they are sufficiently lacking in self-awareness, they may be somewhat more inclined towards left-wing ideologies which e.g., blame all their problems on “society”.


A bit of a lightbulb moment for me was figuring out that, if someone was being unpleasant, the most likely explanations were:

  • I’ve done something stupid
  • That person is a cnut, and not worth my time

and that my skin colour was not an important part of the equation.


I think it depends what you mean by “liberal” and “conservative”

For example I admanetly believe in trans rights, happy to let in as many Muslims as possible, support people’s rights to euthinasia and support the decriminalisation of drugs, and want the ultra rich to pay more.

On the other hand, I am against abortion, think people should be allowed to say whatever they want even if it’s racist etc, think people should be allowed to discriminate when they employ someone based on whatever they want (it’s their business), want schools to be privatised (with a voucher type system) and am against any kind of forced medical treatment.

I’m not sure where that puts me, but I feel pretty happy. Either happy or very confused…

That’s an interesting observation, did you figure out what was going on?

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I see many reasons.

To begin with, if the demographic of America is represented amongst liberals, that’s nearly 60% of heterosexual whites amongst liberals who follow a philosophy saying they’re at the source of all evils. Pretty hard to be happy with that belief.

As it’s mentioned before, liberals reject traditional values like religion and family, which have been proven by research to be correlated with happiness. They reject standards of beauty (hotter people tend to be conservative), going against our nature or social programming (depending on your belief) neither of which is likely to be a pleasant road.

One central idea of liberalism is to undo what comes from tradition, and try to put instead a system based on justice. Nothing says justice, unlike family or religion, makes one happy. It’s a bit like dismantling a house built on Middle-Age knowledge of carpentry–might not be great and ideal, but most of those houses stand–and try to rebuild it based on some abstract idea that it should be “housy”: you’re more likely to fuck it up than anything else.

The only way to power, as per the liberal agenda, is to be oppressed, so as to be able to demand something in reparation. Good luck being happy if your policy is a constant display of how you are being hurt.

And last but not least, the liberal goals are simply unachievable, and therefore a recipe for burn-out. What does a perfect liberal society look like? One were there is not one crime any day of the year against women, non-whites and LGBTs, where any uni student scores straight As and where someone born in a poor suburb around Detroit has as much chance of becoming Google’s CEO as someone born in a rich family in LA. Anything coming short of that will just be an oppressive America.

Not difficult then to believe conservatives can be happier than liberals.


I think there’s some truth to this. I’ve heard it said that one fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe an equal world to be possible, while conservatives believe that inequality is the natural state and doesn’t need to be “fixed”.

The mistake unhappy liberals make is trying to achieve (their idea of) progress on too large a scale. Fighting for big political goals is sort of unsatisfying even when they’re achieved, because it’s too abstract. And there’ll always be another great evil to confront anyway.

A better way to feel like you’ve contributed something meaningful, especially later in life, is to focus on your immediate community, where you can make a visible difference in the lives of those you care about. Conservatives seem to get this, leftist student groups don’t.

On the other hand, I’m a middle-aged liberal with lots of middle-aged liberal friends, and most of us have families and kids and hobbies and don’t spend a lot of time being upset about politics. I seriously doubt that 60% of straight white liberals believe any of the stuff you say, at least among those over 30.

And of course there are always questions of interpretation:

researchers report that conservatives are more likely to proclaim they are happy. But liberals are more likely to provide clues indicating they’re experiencing actual joy, including the words they choose to use, and the genuineness of their smiles.


I’m a liberal too, but I love my God, family, and country.

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This is such a weird strange topic.

I’m happy you’re happy she’s happy he’s happy we’re happy

Wait!!! Who’s more happy!!!

It’s just bizzaro.

Does any internet source that uses the words liberal and conservative get thrown into the US politics forum here?

I know. I feel empowered to take control of my life and take responsibility for my actions. Its freeing and I’m seeing how much it’s improved my life.

The years I’ve spent more left leaning and mostly supporting the Democrats were my most miserable and less achieving.

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I’m a liberal and very happy. A consideration is that liberals wotrry about big problems like hunger, global warming, injustice etc. These things are hard to eradicate, so liberals end up being unhappy because the world doesn’t appear to get better. It does- there’s less racial prejudice, less world poverty, we fixed the hole in the ozone!- but slowly, and there are still a lot of problems to solve.
OTOH, if you don’t care about other people’s problems, you will be happier.

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Republicans are richer. Question solved, you’re welcome.

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The author’s study finds that 22% of conservatives say they are very happy, 57% pretty happy, and 21% not too happy. Liberals are 17% very happy, 55% pretty happy, and 28% not too happy.
These gaps are
1)small 2) self-reported and 3) for the US only.


It’s like self-reported gym attendance and food consumption.

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Nah. Conservatives are busy doing stuff that actually works, so course they’re happy. Successful people usually are. Liberals are obsessed with making stuff that doesn’t work, work, which is miserable.

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I disagree. Classical liberals have a proven track record of getting things that work done over centuries. Progressives, much less.