Washington, Oct 28 : When it comes to helping those in need, Republicans differ from Democrats - irrespective of their religious inclination - according to researchers at University of Missouri.
The researchers found that while Democrats, whether religious or not, did help others in need, unlike both religious and non-religious Republicans, who gave preference to financial success.
In the study, the researchers compared the "extrinsic" values (financial success, status, appearance) with "intrinsic" values (growth, intimacy, helping) of self-declared Democrats and Republicans in four different samples.
Led by Kennon Sheldon, a University of Missouri professor, the study found Republicans to be consistently higher on the extrinsic value of financial success and lower on the intrinsic value of helping others in need
Past research shows that extrinsic values scores above both personal well-being (mood and satisfaction) and collective well-being (cooperation and congeniality).
Sheldon, a professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Science, found Republicans to be consistently higher on the extrinsic value of financial success and lower on the intrinsic value of helping others in need.
Later they found that only non-religious Republicans (presumably economic conservatives) differed from Democrats on the value of helping those in need.
But, they observed that even religious Republicans were a step ahead of Democrats in valuing financial success. Religious and non-religious Democrats did not differ in their values.
The researchers were bugged whether the primarily economic-oriented values of Republican politicians can allow them to work for large much-needed changes like shifting to an alternative and sustainable energy economy in the face of increasing climate change, or shifting toward greater inclusiveness in the face of increasing racial diversity.
They suggested that these challenges may require more intrinsic values, in which connection and cooperation hold more value instead of wealth and consumption.
"The one thing that struck me the most was that the value differences were rather small - really, people were more alike than different, in that almost everybody favored intrinsic values more than extrinsic values," said Sheldon.
He added: "It was just a small relative difference between the two parties. Still, these data suggest that economic conservatives have been 'drafting' on the values of religious conservatives, using conservative Christians' willingness to care for less fortunate others as a cover for their own willingness to exploit the situation."