Survey Finds Christian Conservatives Show Just as Much Empathy as Liberals

New analysis of research is challenging common stereotypes about politically conservative religious people, who, though thought to be religious and “cold-blooded,” report being as empathetic as political “bleeding-heart” liberals when surveyed.

According to a study examining data from the General Social Survey — a National Science Foundation-funded sociological survey created and collected since 1972 out of the University of Chicago — political conservatives who are highly religious are as likely as political liberals to report similar levels of empathy, such as “having tender feelings of concern for others or being greatly disturbed by the others misfortunes of others,” noted David Briggs, writing Tuesday in the Association of Religion Data Archives.

Obscured by a vitriolic political climate today, the actual attitudes of religious conservatives are much more complicated, he said, as evangelicals are a diverse group of people.

“Our study finds some common ground among liberals and conservatives, at least when it comes to the sense of empathic concern for others,” said sociologist Scott Schieman of the University of Toronto, who led one such study.

In the analysis from the 2004 GSS, researchers studied the relationship between political orientation and empathy, finding that survey respondents who self-identified as conservative scored lower on measures of empathy than those who identified as liberal.

Yet those gaps vanished as conservatives reported higher levels of “belief in a loving, supportive God engaged in their lives, or prayed frequently or were regular worship attenders,” Briggs wrote.

Researchers from Texas A&M and the University of Minnesota analyzed data in another study using data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey to determine five basic conceptions Americans have of God.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter