Sebastian Butz, Pascal J. Kieslich, Herbert Bless
Why are conservatives happier than liberals? Comparing different explanations based on system justification, multiple group membership, and positive adjustment

European Journal of Social Psychology, 2017: 47, issue 3, pp. 362-372
ISSN: 0046-2772 (print); 1099-0992 (online)

This study examined the relation between conservatism and life satisfaction. Analyses based on data from a representative German survey (ALLBUS 2010) revealed a positive relation between conservatism and self-reported life satisfaction, thus supporting prior claims of this link. Different accounts have been proposed for this relationship, suggesting system justification, positive adjustment, or multiple group membership as potential mediators. Going beyond prior research, this study allowed for a comparison between these different mechanisms. Analyses revealed that system justification and one of the three examined constructs related to positive adjustment (i.e., religiosity) were significant mediators of the positive relationship between political conservatismand life satisfaction. Comparable results were obtained after controlling for a number of sociodemographic variables. The present findings indicate (i) that conservatives report to be more satisfied with their lives than liberals and (ii) that this difference is in part due to conservatives’ system justification and religiosity.