By far the most convincing research on left–right differencesFinally! Some confirmation that right-wingers have the cognitive agility of a concrete wall and the intellectual receptivity of a broken ham radio.
pertains to epistemic motives associated with mental rigidity and
In the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin 2003 (Vol. 129, No. 3, 339–375), John T. Jost (Stanford University), Jack Glaser (University of California, Berkeley), Arie W. Kruglanski (University of Maryland at College Park) & Frank J. Sulloway (University of California, Berkeley) theorize that conservatism is akin to a mild form of insanity.
I concur, whole heartedly.
Some of my favorite snippets follow:
[D]ogmatism has been found to correlate consistently with authoritarianism, political–economic conservatism, and the holding of right-wing opinions...
[I]ntolerance of ambiguity has been found to correlate positively with ethnocentrism and authoritarianism.
[T]here is a clear indication in [the] data that conservative ideologues are generally less integratively complex than their liberal or moderate counterparts.
[C]onservatives are less inclined to seek out strong external stimulation in the form of other people as well as in the form of nonsocial stimuli.
[C]onservatives are less likely than others to value broad-mindedness, imagination, and “having an exciting life”.
[P]eople who hold politically conservative attitudes are generally less open to new and stimulating experiences.
[A]mbiguity and uncertainty are highly threatening to conservatives.
In diverse aesthetic and organizational contexts, then, evidence from three countries suggests that conservatives are generally motivated to eschew ambiguity, novelty, and uncertainty.
[P]olitically conservative adolescents were more likely to describe themselves as neat, orderly, and organized than were liberal adolescents.
[I]n the realm of political attitudes, authoritarians long for order and structure, advocating such diverse measures as firm parental discipline, comprehensive drug testing, core educational curricula, and quarantines for AIDS patients.
In general, conservatives are associated with:
Mental rigidity & closed-mindedness
Intolerance of ambiguity
Resistant to new experience
Personal needs for order & structure
Need for cognitive closure
Low & threatened self-esteem
Motivated by fear, anger & aggression
Pessimism, disgust & contempt
Fear of loss & death
And then, there's their nice model: