"As we speak, our fellow countryman are rolling out our Kabletown Couches on the assembly line, earning an honest day's pay so they can go to the store and buy milk for their family, which costs...oh, I don't know, $90 a gallon." Jack Donaghy, "30 Rock"
NEW YORK (MainStreet) America's favorite Republican might not have been that far off: being conservative can cost you more at the grocery store. No, really. Published in the journal Psychological Science earlier this year, a study, led by associate professor Vishal Singh of New York University, found conservatives were more likely to buy more name brand products at the grocery store than their less-expensive generic counterparts. The researchers theorized that since conservatives were less likely to embrace the new and be more rigid in other aspects of life that behavior could overlap into some seemingly unrelated activities, like what they buy at the grocery store.
To test that theory, researchers used a scanner database to trace the weekly sales of products from 1,860 stores nationwide over six years, from 2001 to 2006. Using average percentage of Republican votes for presidential elections, information provided by the Association of Religious Data Archives, and accounting for factors like income, education and race, they found conservative areas preferred name brand products more than both generic and new product lines. According to Singh and his team, "conservative ideology is associated with higher reliance on established national brands (as opposed to generics) and a slower uptake of new products." These tendencies, the researchers concluded, "are consistent with traits typically associated with conservatism, such as aversion to risk, skepticism about new experiences and a general preference for tradition, convention, and the status quo." Buying a new or different product is itself a small risk, the researchers argue.
Conversely, less conservative counties bought more generic products. Researchers theorized this might be because liberals have less risk-averse life views, and are more open to new experiences, which could affect how they shop.