Politically conservative people pretend to be happy, but liberals actually are, according to research published in the journal Science.
In surveys, conservatives typically rate their own happiness higher than liberals. But researchers from California attempted to use less subjective measures by looking for emotional content in publicly available pictures of conservative and liberal members of Congress, as well as the text of the 2013 Congressional Record.
“Relative to conservatives, liberals more frequently used positive emotional language in their speech and smiled more intensely and genuinely in photographs,” the researchers write. “Our results were consistent across large samples of online survey takers, U.S. politicians, Twitter users, and LinkedIn users. Our findings illustrate the nuanced relationship between political ideology, self-enhancement, and happiness and illuminate the contradictory ways that happiness differences can manifest across behavior and self-reports.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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