Study: Liberals Want Censorship More Than Moderates, Conservatives

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Censorship is in direct opposition to the ideal of free speech and  the First Amendment. However, it seems to be a priority for those who espouse a liberal ideology, as shown by a new study from Marietta College. 

The research found that liberals were more likely to censor a statement if it disagreed with their values than moderates and conservatives. Liberals were more interested in censoring statements that criticized women, African Americans, and Islam than conservatives and moderates. 

Conservatives, on the other hand, were more likely to censor swearing and gore than moderates and liberals, according to the study by Marietta Assistant Professor of Psychology Bo Winegard and Durham University Assistant Professor of Quantitative Social Psychology Cory Clark called, The Ideology of Censorship.

Furthermore, millennials were more likely to censor ideological statements than those from Gen X, or Baby Boomers. The results here were more marginal, i.e. age did not have that much difference on who wanted censorship.

The study showed the 559 participants (recruited via crowdsourcing app Mechanical Turk) five different controversial statements. One-hundred-and-thirty-five of participants were conservative, 114 were moderate, and 307 were liberal. 

Three of the statements were changed to provoke different reactions from the participants. 

This included a statement about leadership that was manipulated to reflect gender. The example used was “Researchers have argued that men(women) are better leaders than women (men.)" Overall, people wanted the statement that claimed that men were better leaders censored. Liberals supported this more than conservatives and moderates. None of the three groups wanted to censor the statement that women were better leaders.  

On a scale of one to seven, liberals scored a 3.4 on the censorship scale when the statement referred to men. Conservatives scored a 2.5 on the same question. 

Another statement looked at violence and religion: "Islam (Christianity) was a powerful ideology that spread rapidly across the Arabian Peninsula. It was also a violent, warlike religion that promoted domination of other people. To this day, it inspires hatred, bigotry, and even terrorism.” Liberals wanted to censor the statement when it spoke of Islam. None of the three groups were interested in censoring the statement when it referred to Christianity. 

One the scale of one to seven, liberals scored a 3.2 when the statement referred to Islam. Conservatives scored a 2.4 on the same question. 

The third analyzed intelligence and race: "Scholars have suggested that white (black) people score higher than black (white) people on intelligence tests. It is likely that at least some of this gap is caused by genetics. That is, whites (blacks) are genetically smarter than blacks (whites)." None of the groups wanted to censor the statement when it referred to black people being smarter, while liberals would have censored the statement when it referred to white people being smarter. 

On a scale of one to seven, liberals scored a 3.8 when the statement referred to white people. Conservatives scored a 2.6 on the same question. 

The other two statements were not manipulated in any way. The one statement was filled with swearing and profanity, while the other was graphic and gory.  “Liberals were less supportive of censoring gore than Conservatives,” states the study. Conservatives scored a 2.6 on the profanity question and a 3.2 on the gore question. Liberals scored 2.4 and 2.7 respectively. 

 

Censorship Project

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