Whiny Kids and Future Conservatives

Drudge is linking to a story describing a bizarre study that concludes that whiny children tend to grow up to be political conservatives while independent kids grow up to be liberal. Of course, all the kids in the study were from Berkeley, CA, which does skew the results a bit — perhaps the whiny kids were considered whiny because they didn’t want to put a condom on a banana at age 6 (or perhaps they picked up the "whining" from their parents, who didn’t want them to). Also, I wonder if there’s a correlation between having a stable family structure and being considered "whiny" — do kids with responsive mothers and fathers tend to whine more, knowing there will be a response? (Of course, these are speculative questions — but then again, this study, which is being so highly touted by the media, finds that only 7 percent of the variance between future liberals and future conservatives may be explained by whininess.)

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the study actually has some merit, and that across the board, whiny kids become conservatives. What then to make of consistent polling data showing that Republicans are happier than Democrats (poll results that have remained stable over the course of over 30 years)? What should we make of the fact that Republicans are wealthier, on average, than Democrats? What should we make of the fact that those who are married and religious are happier than those who are not? Apparently, conservatism turns whiny kids into good citizens and liberalism turns independent kids into whiny adults.


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