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I Always Figured This
The basic finding of research from the UK should surprise no one. Conservatives have always seemed to behave and think in a more primitive manner than their progressive counterparts. Their 'might makes right' approach to things, their 'herd mentality', best evidenced by the Tea Party and the way they follow folks like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, or religious and free-market fundamentalists.
But the idea of the conservatives 'fear center' being larger than liberals made me realize that liberals and conservatives also seem to fear different things.
A conservative seems to me to fear things that are rather intangible, their fear of "the government" being the best example. The reality is more likely that powerful people, especially in the corporate world, see threats to their power and their interests. These people then utilize folks like Beck and Limbaugh to scare their listeners and viewers and spur them to action, often against the conservative 'outgroups'.
The fear of these 'outgroups', evidenced best by legislation passed in Arizona and proposed in other states, is another example of the conservative fears being harnessed. It's likely the oldest right-wing tactic; create a scapegoat group and divide people that should likely be allies against attempts to create a corporate state. The idea of framing efforts by these groups to gain equality as attempts to gain 'rights' falls is another way that this fear is manipulated.
Both of these may be examples of what the main fear of the conservative is, the loss of power by the powerful. In America, the White, Male, majority has seen it's power seem to erode as groups gain social and political power. The power of corporations is perceived to be under threat as ideas of environmental sustainability and economic justice take hold.
The liberal mind, in my mind, fears things that are tangible and observable. They fear the rise of corporate power, and see it in things like the Citizens United decision. They see the debate over gay marriage and reproductive rights as signs that while we fight religious fundamentalists in one part of the world, that we have our own fundamentalists to fight. They see environmental destruction and fear what effects it could have on future generations.
And that could be one other difference, and perhaps the big one. Conservative fear is based often on the here and now. Progressives can look forward and see long-term consequences.