A new global study found that parents and people who hope to become parents tend to be more pro-life and politically conservative.
Perhaps unsurprising, the results mesh with many pro-life advocates’ stories. Often, people change their minds about abortion after seeing their unborn baby on an ultrasound screen for the first time, suffering a miscarriage or feeling pressured to abort a baby in difficult circumstances. Others become pro-life after their own abortions, realizing too late that their child’s life was valuable and irreplaceable.
In the new study, published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” in September, researchers posed questions about children and political issues to more than 2,600 adults in 10 countries across the world, the Daily Mail reports.
“[We found] evidence that both parenthood and parental care motivation are associated with increased social conservatism around the globe,” said lead researcher Nicholas Kerry, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Age frequently is connected to increasingly conservative views, but Kerry said their study suggests parenthood and parental instincts may be a bigger factor.
“There is this idea that as you get older you become more conservative from experience and from being bitten by the real world,” he told the Guardian. “But it doesn’t seem to be the case. If you look at people who are not parents, you just do not see an age difference.”
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Parents and those with parental instincts tend to be more conservative on issues like abortion, sex before marriage, gay marriage and immigration, the study found.
Here’s more from the Daily Mail:
[One] experiment involved researchers showing photos of ‘young, cute children’ to US university students, almost all of whom didn’t have children.
The participants were asked to identify which of the children ‘most resembled how they imagined a future child of theirs to look’.
They were also required to give this particular child an imagined name and describe a series of hypothetical positive experiences with them, before being assessed for their conservative values.
The students who showed stronger parental instincts tended to be more pro-life and conservative, according to the study.
The researchers said their findings do not prove that parenthood causes people to become conservative; it may be that people who are conservative are more likely to want to be parents. However, it is likely that both are true.
They concluded, “The motivation to care for children is consequently among the fundamental drivers of human behavior, but its power to shape social attitudes and cognition is underappreciated.”
However, many couples today are not having children based on fears about environmental issues or the costs of raising a family. As a result, across the United States, Europe and many Asian countries, the birth rate has been dropping to dire levels, prompting concerns about the economy, Social security and care for the elderly.
Billionaire Elon Musk, Pope Francis, economists and others have been warning about the dire costs of underpopulation. In May, Pope Francis said countries with legalized abortion and low birth rates are “impoverishing their futures” by not having children.
“Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption,” the pope said at the time. “But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”
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