Sunday, 18 June 2017

Age Related Conservatism

a few weeks ago I received an invitation to join YouGov, the polling firm, to provide input to many of their polls. No idea why I was selected, but I thought it a good idea. YouGov has daily polls on some three subjects that are in the news and the result of the polls are fed back to those who participate. The results are broken down by gender, political leanings, UK region and age group, and they show some interesting trends, the most obvious one being that people move to the right of the political spectrum as they get older.

Psychologists have studied this age related conservatism (with a small c) and have identified a number of factors.

  1. As we grow older our thinking slows down, and intellectual curiosity stagnates. This leads to us becoming less inclined to seek out new experiences, which are proven to open us up to alternative views.
  2. After the age of about 40, and accelerating as we enter into our 60s, this slower thinking tends to make us see things as either black or white and we dismiss views that conflict with preconceptions, shutting out new knowledge.
  3. As we age we prefer to navigate life on autopilot, feeling more comfortable with the perceived certainty of our isolated views. Remaining open-minded causes uncertainty, leading to insecurity and self-doubt. Older people are less willing to admit they've made a mistake and cling tenaciously to old, discredited mantras.
Time after time, the daily YouGov poll feedback shows those over 50 generally have more reactionary views, while those at the other end of the age continuum are more progressive.

The strange thing is that the older I get, the more I seem to be moving to the left. It could be a lot to do with the fact that the older I get, the more frugally I tend to live life, meaning I've become less acquisitive and much happier in my skin, which makes me think a bit more about those less fortunate than me.

Having said that, like most people, I inherited my politics from my father - a Conservative - and voted that way for decades, not really questioning why. In my 40s I moved a tad left of centre and remained there, having developed a more analytical approach to politics and a social conscience. To be honest, I've not moved further left; the left seems to have moved closer to me. I'm constantly horrified by the number of people who never read a manifesto and vote on the basis of either blind, tribal allegiance (as in the parental example above), or the presidential attributes of the party leaders.


  1. Platitudes and weak excuses to explain a lack of humanitarian values. Much the same as your previous blog post where you described my "image" as being hideous and yet that image was very recent and originated from that terrible fire in Kensington.

    1. Mel - I sometimes simply don't understand where you're coming from in your attacks. Are you saying I lack humanitarian values because I'm to the left politically?

  2. No, I am not and in an effort to be brief - I have upset the apple cart, sorry.
    I disagree with what is written in para 1,2 & 3 for they are not from my experience and I suggest are ageist remarks [Platitudes and excuses] made by reading a chart and not from personal experience.
    Because far from slowing down mentally what I have experienced is that I think at a much deeper level and am able to give profound answers to questions asked of me from younger people.
    I am a Socialist.
    Your return comment in yesterdays blog made me exasperated and elicited the comment about humanitarian values for which I am not apologising. UK Bloggers are ducking out of talking about the Fire and they are not doing themselves any favours whatsoever; for it really does need to be discussed.

    1. The subject of today's post is from both a YouGov poll result and running a Yahoo e Group of several hundred men for my school's Old Boys, who vary from 58 to 90 odd years of age.

      As for the previous day's post, it had bugger all to do with the fire.

      I too buck the trend, in that I haven't gone to the right.