Metaphor and Political Ideology: The Link Between Helicopter Parenting and Political Attitudes (and everything else)


Thursday, December 3, 2020, 4:00pm to 5:15pm


Leadership, Influence and Decision Making

This speaker series provides an opportunity for scholars to share and learn about cutting edge research related to the topic of leadership, broadly defined.

4:00-5:15 P.M.
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"Metaphor and Political Ideology: The Link Between Helicopter Parenting and Political Attitudes (and everything else)"

Abstract concepts like political ideology are hard to mentally represent, so some scholars have argued that we ground them in concrete concepts through metaphor. One prominent example is Lakoff's 'government as family' theory, suggesting that our perspective on how government should function is based largely in our perspective on how families should function. Lakoff has suggested, for example, that a preference for nurturant (as opposed to disciplinarian) parenting style will yield different attitudes on issues such as welfare, prison sentences, and law enforcement. In this paper we explore the recent rise of helicopter vs. free range parenting styles through the lens of Lakoff's model, finding evidence of a link between helicoptering and preference for paternalistic government policies, while free range parenting styles yield a preference for libertarian policies. This parenting metaphor explains more of the variance than ideology, party affiliation, and several other common predictors of political preference. We then explore the extent to which this metaphor extends beyond political settings, exploring the implications for business, education, health care and several other domains.

RSVP by 12:00 PM ET on Thursday, 12/3.

Danny Oppenheimer is a professor at Carnegie Mellon jointly appointed in Psychology and Decision Sciences who studies judgment, decision making, metacognition, learning and causal reasoning, and applies his findings to a diverse array of domains, such as charitable giving, consumer behavior, education, electoral outcomes, and how to trick students into buying him ice cream. He is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed articles and books including "Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that shouldn't work at all works so well" and "Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction". He has won awards for research, teaching, and humor, the latter of which is particularly inexplicable given his penchant for truly terrible puns.
This event is open to HKS students, faculty, and staff. The session will be recorded, and may be posted to YouTube and/or CPL's social media channels. Attendees must register for this event using the registration link above. Persons with disabilities who wish to request accommodation or who have questions about access, please contact in advance of the session.