Infographic: How being a liberal or conservative shapes your life

How can political perspective dictate child rearing, career choices and other aspects of our lives?
Written by Tuan Nguyen, Contributing Editor on
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These days identifying yourself as a liberal or conservative transcends politics. It's the type of rift that extends to cultural, family and to some degree religious values. Studies have even suggested these differences in beliefs and attitudes cut so deep you can spot them in the structure of the brain.

Going a step further, David McCandless of the website Information is Beautiful, has gathered available statistical data and created an infographic that breaks down several of the various ways one's political perspective can dictate child rearing, career choices and other aspects of private and public life. It's actually a revision of a previous version that he felt may have had a liberal slant, owing to his own personal political persuasions. To correct for this, he brought in another expert, Stefanie Posavec.

And whether your liberal, conservative or neither you're probably questioning where he got his information, which he details in thethe Guardian Datablog:

"I had a vague sense, but no real detail. No sense of the cartography. So I roved through the Encyclopaedia Britannica, cross-referenced with Wikipedia, and delved through sites like conservative-resource.com to shape up and create a flowing 'concept-map' of these two blocs."

At the core of these identities are the most obvious traits. For instance, the chart shows that liberals have a penchant for equality, science-based beliefs and a "one for all and all for one approach" towards a person's role in society" while conservatives have a theistic, personal responsibility and "survival of the fittest" mentality (which ironically is catch-phrase often linked to Darwinism).

But what's perhaps is more revealing is how these belief systems seem to manifest in some of the more defining choices people make. Conservatives tend to gravitate toward hierarchical jobs like law enforcement, military and business. Liberals are often found in the more wide-open fields of science, education and the media, which by the way can -- in some people's minds -- give credence to the charge that the media has a liberal bias.

One of the more controversial sections is the data on child rearing. Apparently it's all about self-discipline, character-building and tough love for the offspring of conservatives. Contrast that to the nurturing and empathetic approach of liberals.

Based on this chart, you might argue that the more liberal approach to parenting has become the more acceptable or even often promoted paradigm in the debate over how best to raise a child. One recent example that illustrates this point was the public uproar over an excerpt of a memoir in the Wall Street Journal with the headline "Why Chinese Moms are Superior." In the book, author Amy Chua extols the virtues of being a disciplinarian, which she credits for a a household adorned with trophies and other platitudes of achievement.

Obviously, you can easily chalk up the public vitriol as an attack stirred up by a liberal-biased media looking to defend a status quo they've long supported. But like politics, the belief systems that undergird them are more complex than the labels people often try to neatly affix. Take the controversial proposal to require citizens to have health care, an idea originally put forth by Republicans as an alternative to the Hilary Clinton model and has since been decried as "Obamacare." And it isn't entirely in-congruent to support beliefs on both sides of the spectrum.

But what do you think?

Image: Information is Beautiful

More infographics and interactive maps:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com


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