Name-brand or generic? Your political ideology might influence your choice

February 12, 2013

Conservatives and liberals don't just differ when it comes to politics, they may also make different purchases at the grocery store, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Psychological research has shown that conservatives and liberals differ on basic such as conscientiousness, tolerance for uncertainty, and openness to new experience. Researcher Vishal Singh of New York University Stern School of Business and colleagues hypothesized that the conservative tendency to prefer tradition and convention would be reflected in conservatives' purchasing behavior, leading them to choose established name-brand products over generic brands or new products.

The researchers analyzed weekly sales data from over 1,800 supermarkets in counties across the United States, spanning the years from 2001 to 2006. Using data on voting history and religiosity—factors that are independently correlated with conservative values—they were able to determine the level of conservatism in each county.

After accounting for factors such as income and education, the researchers found that the market share for a wide variety of generic products was lower in more conservative counties than in more liberal counties. Similarly, uptake of newly launched products was systematically lower in more conservative counties. These data suggest that conservative ideology may be associated with reliance on established national brands.

"These tendencies are consistent with traits typically associated with conservatism, such as aversion to risk, skepticism about , and a general preference for tradition, convention, and the status quo," Singh and colleagues write.

According to the researchers, this research provides the first evidence for a relationship between and buying behavior, suggesting that ideological differences are reflected in daily behavior, even at the .

Explore further: Conservatism as a source of happiness

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4 / 5 (2) Feb 12, 2013
Either I'm an outlier or this study is wrong -- because I'm politically conservative yet I usually buy generic brands. (Aren't conservatives supposed to be cheapskates?) My wife, who's very liberal, prefers to buy the name brands she sees on TV.
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2013
Either I'm an outlier or this study is wrong -- because I'm politically conservative yet I usually buy generic brands. (Aren't conservatives supposed to be cheapskates?) My wife, who's very liberal, prefers to buy the name brands she sees on TV.

As with most political definitions, they are relatively descriptive or defining.

And, it appears that they have all shifted somewhere to the right in the past 30 or so years.

It might even be possible to be so conservative as to become indistinguishable from a liberal, since traditionally, conservatism has been understod to mean adherence to proven "good" values.

It is the definition of what constitutes a "good" value that provides the basis for ideological slippage.

And, of course, some values are neutral. "Thriftiness" for example.

3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2013
Conservatism has nothing to do with 'good' or actually conserving. Conservatives are and always have been those who advocate the church meddling in politics and society. They will sell out to anyone who backs them, as religion means anything (ergo nothing). That's why they are considered often pro-commerce, in the most diminutive sense. They favor overt warfare as well as war fought upon the middle class with feral capitalism. They are kindred spirits with fascists and collectivists for the 1%, as communists are collectivists for the 99% (in theory).

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