Research Shows Why Internet Benefits Liberals More than Conservatives

Gregory Ferenstein of U.C., Irvine, writes in CNN Online that “liberals have been the dominant political force on the internet since the digital revolution began.” He cites new research from Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society which links this liberal dominance to the “liberal belief system itself.”

“Liberals, the research finds, are oriented toward community activism, employing technology to encourage debate and feature user-generated content. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more comfortable with a commanding leadership and use restrictive policies to combat disorderly speech in online forums.

All of this suggests that the internet may benefit liberals more often than conservatives — at least for now.

The different approaches of the top two political blogs may illustrate the correlation between ideology and online strategy.

The Huffington Post’s closest conservative competitor,, has only a fraction of its audience size and is tightly controlled by an inner circle of three authors.”

These observations are reminiscent of George Lakoff’s distinction between conservatives and liberals using a family structure metaphor. In Lakoff’s analysis, conservatives are driven unconsciously by a “strict father model,” in which the authoritarian qualities of the parent, usually the father, are most valued. The strict parent focuses on the punishment of bad behaviour and the rewarding of good.

Lakoff finds that liberals, on the other hand, are more influenced by the unconscious “nurturant parent model,” in which children learn discipline by being treated with respect and compassion, more than by being punished and rewarded.

Read Ferenstein’s complete article here: “Why the web benefits liberals more than conservatives.”

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3 Responses to “Research Shows Why Internet Benefits Liberals More than Conservatives”
  1. depelton says:

    And for more about the link between conservatism as it is now practiced and the authoritarian personality, see John Dean’s excellent book, “Conservatives Without Conscience.’

  2. Anna Haynes says:

    This breaks down with science-vs-PR though. See any unmoderated comments section, dealing with a science topic that the PR folks have an anti-science stake in.

    Which is really, really sad.

  3. Anna Haynes says:

    And for another perspective –

    How congressional Republicans are beating Democrats on the Internets.

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