Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


In the late 1990s, political analyst and linguist George Lakoff proposed an intriguing new way to understand what separates liberals from conservatives in American politics. His theory was based on the premise that there are two opposing frames through which Americans view politics, and that parenting values determine which frame one chooses. Those who adhere to the strict father model hold conservative beliefs on a wide range of issues, while nurturant parents are more liberal. Lakoff's writings have since become widespread and his parenting theory has convinced many political strategists and activists, despite the fact that his hypotheses lacked empirical evidence. This study used survey data to test the impact of parenting values on a wide range of controversial policies. It finds strong support for the hypotheses that strict fathers tend to prefer stronger security measures and support traditional social norms, while nurturant parents are more liberal on these issues. However, parenting style proved to be a poor indicator of political attitudes on the government's role in the economy.