Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life

Exploring the simple selfish biases that make us caring, creative, and complex

Dueling Stereotypes and the Psychology of Bumper Stickers

Republicans for Voldemort

I walked past a car in the parking lot with a bumper sticker that caught my eye: It read: “Republicans for Voldemort.” In case you haven’t read the Harry Potter books, Voldemort is a character somewhere between Hitler and Satan. As described on the website where you can buy the bumper sticker: “He wants to take over the world. Check.  He’s militaristic and insane. Check. He’s ruthless. Check. Sounds like a great Republican candidate. 

In the interest of equal time, I decided to do a search for bumper stickers that would be humorous to one side but not the other, and found a surprising amount of communication going on between the two sides:

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Annoy a Liberal: Work Hard, Succeed, and Be Happy

Annoy a Conservative: Live Like Jesus

 

Annoy a Liberal: Pay your own bills

Annoy a Liberal: Destroy the constitution, the earth, and humanity

 

Socialists: Spreading the wealth since 1917

Democrats: Cleaning up Republican Messes since 1933.

 

 

 

Uncle Sam: I want YOU to take your traitorous liberal ass to Canada

Come On: If liberals really hated America, we’d vote Republican.

 

Welfare: Helping people who vote by stealing from people who work.

Jesus would heal the sick.

 

Liberalism: The haunting fear someone, somewhere, can help themselves.

Environmentalism: the crazy idea that we ought to clean up after ourselves.

 

Pro-God, Pro-Life, pro-Gun, Pro-Country, Anti-Obama

Like Jesus would own a gun and vote Republican!

 

A liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel -- Robert Frost

Tea: It’s the new Kool-Aid

 

Feminism: The radical notion that women are people

Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians – Pat Robertson

 

And here’s one that might be considered fair and bipartisan this week: 

Government: Getting nothing done, expensively. 

I tried to be unbiased in coming up with the above list, but there’s a fascinating study that suggests that both liberals and conservatives will think I was biased.  Vallone, Ross, and Lepper asked students to read news reports of an altercation between Israelis and Palestinians.  Pro-Israeli students thought the reports were biased – against Israel; Pro-Palestinian students agreed that the reports were biased, but perceived as biased in favor of Israel.  

And here’s a test of your open-mindedness: Did you think any of the bumper stickers from the other side of the fence were funny? And yet those from your side were kinda cleverly hilarious, weren’t they? OK, maybe I’m projecting. 

- Douglas Kenrick is the (completely unbiased) author of the recent book: Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A psychologist investigates how evolution, cognition, and complexity are revolutionizing our view of human nature. (14 out of 18 reviewers on Amazon so far have given it 5 out of 5 stars; they are also obviously unbiased and of impeccable taste). 

Reference

Vallone, R.P., Ross, L., & Lepper, M.R. (1985).  The hostile media phenomenon: Biased perception and perceptions of media bias coverage of the Beirut massacre.  Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 49, 577-585. 

Douglas T. Kenrick, Ph.D., is professor of social psychology at Arizona State University.

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