Conservatism is a political and social term whose meaning has changed in different countries and time periods, but which usually indicates support for the status quo or the status quo ante. Cultural conservatism is a philosophy that supports preservation of the heritage of a nation or culture.
The political term conservative was coined by French politician Chateaubriand in 1819. In Western politics, the term conservatism often refers to the school of thought started by Edmund Burke and similar thinkers. Scholar R.J. White wrote: "To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere […] The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living." Russell Kirk considered conservatism "the negation of ideology."
Conservative political parties have diverse views; the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, the Republican Party in the United States, the Conservative Party in Britain, and the Liberal Party of Australia are all major conservative parties with varying positions.
Although political thought from its beginnings contains many strains that can be retrospectively labeled conservative, it was not until the Age of Enlightenment, and in particular the reaction to events surrounding the French Revolution of 1789, that conservatism began to rise as a distinct political attitude or train of thought. Many point to the rise of a conservative disposition in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, specifically to the works of influential Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker, emphasizing moderation in the political balancing of interests towards the goals of social harmony and common good. Edmund Burke’s polemic Reflections on the Revolution in France helped conservatism gain prominence.
Edmund Burke was among the first to support American Revolution, while opposing the French Revolution, which he saw as violent and chaotic. He pressed for parliamentary control of royal patronage and expenditure.
His classical conservative position often insisted that conservatism has no ideology, in the sense of a utopian program, with some form of master plan. Burke developed his ideas in response to the enlightened idea of a society guided by abstract reason. Although he did not use the term, he anticipated the critique of modernism, a term first used at the end of the 19th century by the Dutch religious conservative Abraham Kuyper. Burke was disinclined "to give praise or blame to any thing which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction". Burke argued that some people had less reason than others, and thus some people will make better governments than others if they rely upon reason. To Burke, the proper formulation of government came not from abstractions such as reason, but from time-honoured development of the state, piecemeal progress through experience and the continuation of other important societal institutions such as the family and the Church. He argued that tradition draws on the wisdom of many generations and the tests of time, while reason may be a mask for the preferences of one man, and at best represents only the untested wisdom of one generation. However, Burke wrote, "A state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation." Burke insisted further change be organic rather than revolutionary. An attempt to modify the complex web of human interactions that form human society, for the sake of some doctrine or theory, runs the risk of running afoul of the iron law of unintended consequences.
Western Conservatism has also been influenced by the Counter-Enlightenment works of Joseph de Maistre. Maistre argued for the restoration of hereditary monarchy, which he regarded as a divinely sanctioned institution, and for the indirect authority of the Pope over temporal matters. He also defended the principle of hierarchical authority, which the Revolution sought to destroy. Maistre published in 1819 his masterpiece Du Pape ("On the Pope"). The work is divided into four parts. In the first he argues that, in the Church, the pope is sovereign, and that it is an essential characteristic of all sovereign power that its decisions should be subject to no appeal. Consequently, the pope is infallible in his teaching, since it is by his teaching that he exercises his sovereignty. In the remaining divisions the author examines the relations of the pope and the temporal powers, civilization and the welfare of nations, and the schismatic Churches. He argues that nations require protection against abuses of power by a sovereignty superior to all others, and that this sovereignty should be that of the papacy, the historical saviour and maker of European civilization.
Conservatives strongly support the right of property, and Carl B. Cone, in Burke and the Nature of Politics, pointed out that this view, expressed as philosophy, also served the interests of the people involved. Conservatives are usually economic liberals, diverging from classical liberalism in the tradition of Adam Smith. Some conservatives look to a modified free market order, such as the American System, ordoliberalism, or Friedrich List's National System. The latter view differs from strict laissez-faire, in that the state's role is to promote competition while maintaining the national interest, community and identity.
Most conservatives strongly support the sovereign nation (although that was not so in the 19th century), and patriotically identify with their own nation. Nationalist separatist movements may be both radical and conservative. Some conservatives are friendly toward the idea of nation, such the liberal conservative New-Flemish Alliance, which has sought peaceful secession of Flanders from Belgium.
Liberal conservatism is a variant of conservatism that combines conservative values and policies with liberal stances. As these latter two terms have had different meanings over time and across countries, liberal conservatism also has a wide variety of meanings. Historically, the term often referred to the combination of economic liberalism, which champions laissez-faire markets, with the classical conservatism concern for established tradition, respect for authority and religious values. It contrasted itself with classical liberalism, which supported freedom for the individual in both the economic and social spheres.
Over time, the general conservative ideology in many countries adopted economic liberal arguments, and the term liberal conservatism was replaced with conservatism. This is also the case in countries where liberal economic ideas have been the tradition, such as the United States, and are thus considered conservative. In other countries where liberal conservative movements have entered the political mainstream, such as Italy and Spain, the terms liberal and conservative may be synonymous. The liberal conservative tradition in the United States combines the economic individualism of the classical liberals with a Burkean form of conservatism (which has also become part of the American conservative tradition, such as in the writings of Russell Kirk).
A secondary meaning for the term liberal conservativism that has developed in Europe is a combination of more modern conservative (less traditionalist) views with those of social liberalism. This has developed as an opposition to the more collectivist views of socialism. Often this involves stressing what are now conservative views of free-market economics and belief in individual responsibility, with social liberal views on defence of civil rights, environmentalism and support for a limited welfare state. This philosophy is that of Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. In continental Europe, this is sometimes also translated into English as social conservatism.
Conservative liberalism is a variant of liberalism that combines liberal values and policies with conservative stances, or, more simply, the right wing of the liberal movement.   The roots of conservative liberalism are found at the beginning of the history of liberalism. Until the two World Wars, in most European countries the political class was formed by conservative liberals, from Germany to Italy. Conservative liberalism is a more positive and less radical version of classical liberalism. The events such as World War I occurring after 1917 brought the more radical version of classical liberalism to a more conservative (i.e. more moderate) type of liberalism.
See main article: Libertarian conservatism. Libertarian conservatism describes certain political ideologies within the United States and Canada which combines libertarian economic issues with aspects of conservatism. Its five main branches are Constitutionalism, paleolibertarianism, neolibertarianism, small government conservatism and Christian libertarianism. They generally differ from paleoconservatives, in that they are in favor of more personal and economic freedom. Agorists such as Samuel Edward Konkin III labeled libertarian conservatism right-libertarianism. 
In contrast to paleoconservatives, libertarian conservatives support strict laissez-faire policies such as free trade, opposition to the Federal Reserve and opposition to business regulations. They are vehemently opposed to environmental regulations, corporate welfare, subsidies, and other areas of economic intervention. Many of them have views in accord to Ludwig von Mises. However, many of them oppose abortion, as they see it as a positive liberty and violates the non-aggression principle because abortion is aggression towards the fetus.
...[I]t is to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time, paramount in title, superior in equity. The fortunes of individuals, whether possessed by acquisition or by descent or in virtue of a participation in the goods of some community, were no part of the creditor's security, expressed or implied...[T]he public, whether represented by a monarch or by a senate, can pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can have no public estate except in what it derives from a just and proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large.
In other words, a government does not have the right to run up large debts and then throw the burden on the taxpayer; the taxpayers' right not to be taxed oppressively takes precedence even over paying back debts a government may have imprudently undertaken.
Green conservatism is a term used to refer to conservatives who have incorporated green concerns into their ideology. The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom under David Cameron has embraced a green agenda that includes proposals designed to impose a tax on workplace car parking spaces, a halt to airport growth, a tax on gas-guzzling 4x4 vehicles and restrictions on car advertising.
See main article: Cultural conservatism. Cultural conservatism is a philosophy that supports preservation of the heritage of a nation or culture. The culture in question may be as large as Western culture or Chinese civilization or as small as that of Tibet. Cultural conservatives try to adapt norms handed down from the past. The norms may be romantic, like the anti-metric movement that demands the retention of avoirdupois weights and measures in Britain and opposes their replacement with the metric system. They may be institutional: in the West this has included chivalry and feudalism, as well as capitalism, laicité and the rule of law.
In the subset social conservatism, the norms may also be what is viewed as a question of morality. In some cultures, practices such as homosexuality are seen as immoral. In others, it is considered immoral for a woman to reveal too much of her body.
Cultural conservatives often argue that old institutions have adapted to a particular place or culture and therefore ought to be preserved. Others argue that a people have a right to their cultural norms, their own language and traditions.
Religious conservatives seek to apply the teachings of particular ideologies to politics, sometimes by proclaiming the value of those teachings, at other times seeking to have those teachings influence laws. Religious conservatism may support, or be supported by, secular customs. In other places or at other times, religious conservatism may find itself at odds with the culture in which the believers reside. In some cultures, there is conflict between two or more different groups of religious conservatives, each claiming both that their view is correct, and that opposing views are wrong.
Because many religions preserve a founding text, or at least a set of well-established traditions, the possibility of radical religious conservatism arises. These are radical both in the sense of abolishing the status quo and of a perceived return to the radix or root of a belief. They are ante conservative in their claim to be preserving the belief in its original or pristine form. Radical religious conservatism generally sees the status quo as corrupted by abuses, corruption, or heresy. One example of such a movement was the Radical Reformation within the Protestant Reformation and the later Restorationists of the 1800s. Similar phenomena have arisen in practically all the world's religions, in many cases triggered by the violent cultural collision between the traditional society in question and the modern Western society that has developed throughout the world over the past 500 years.
Conservatism in Australia is related to British and American conservatism in many respects, but has a distinct political tradition. One scholar argues that Australian conservatism is traditionally composed of diverse groups and interests that are united more by opposition to certain political developments than by a distinct shared ideology. In terms of partisan politics, conservatism has often been defined as opposition to the Australian Labor Party. Australian groups that have historically been grouped on the conservative side include social conservatives, British Empire nationalists, organizations supporting rural interests, anti-socialist Catholics, fundamentalist Christians and free-market liberals."
Historically, for the first 70 years after the Federation of Australia, the non-Labor (and hence implicitly conservative) side of Australian politics was associated with policies of moderate protectionism in trade, and of support for the welfare state, coupled with maintenance of Australia's ties to the British Empire. Many scholars have seen the government of Robert Menzies as exemplifying this trend. However, from the 1980s, free-market economic policies were increasingly associated with conservatism in Australian politics, following the same trend as the United States under Ronald Reagan and the United Kingdom under Margaret Thatcher. In contemporary Australian politics, the Liberal Party of Australia is seen as the main conservative party.
Seretse Khama founded the conservative Botswana Democratic Party and it has been the most popular party in Botswana. According to the Economic Freedom of the World survey, Botswana is Africa's second most capitalist country.
See main article: Canadian conservatism. Canadian conservatism has always been rooted in a preference for the traditional and established ways of doing things, even as it has shifted in economic, foreign and social policy. Like Burke, they rejected the sense of both ideology and revolution, preferring pragmatism and evolution. It is for that reason that unlike conservatives in the United States, Canadian conservatives are generally not republicans, preferring the monarchy and Westminster system of government. (The United States is a federal republic, while Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a distinction resulting from the American Revolution and its aftermath.)
In Germany, conservatism has often been represented by Christian Democratic parties. They form the bulk of the European People's Party faction in the European Parliament. The origin of these parties is usually in Catholic parties of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Catholic social teaching was their original inspiration. Over the years, conservatism gradually became their main ideological inspiration, and they generally became less Catholic. The German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) are Protestant-Catholic parties.
In Iran, conservatism is represented by parties such as the Combatant Clergy Association (CCA), which includes the nation’s foremost politicized clerics (including the current Ayatollah)  and is considered to be part of the "Islamic right". The CCA was the majority party in the fourth and fifth parliaments after the Islamic revolution. It was founded in 1977 by a group of clerics with intentions to use cultural approachs to overthrow the Shah.
In Israel, Likud is the major centre-right political party. Founded in 1973 as an alliance of several right-wing and liberal parties, Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history. Likud supports free market capitalism and liberalism. Likud, under the guidance of Finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu, pushed through legislation to reduce value added tax (VAT), income and corporate taxes, as well as customs duty. The party has instituted free trade (especially with the European Union and the United States) and has dismantled certain monopolies (e.g. Bezeq and the sea ports). It has privatized numerous government-owned companies (e.g. El Al and Bank Leumi).
Likud has in the past espoused hawkish policies towards the Palestinians, including opposition to Palestinian statehood and support of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, it has also been the party which carried out the first peace agreements with Arab states. For instance, in 1979, Likud Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, signed the Camp David Accords with Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, which returned the Sinai Peninsula (occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967) to Egypt in return for peace between the two countries. Yitzhak Shamir also granted some legitimacy to the Palestinians by meeting them at the ill-fated Madrid Conference following the Persian Gulf War in 1991. However, Shamir refused to concede the idea of a Palestinian state, and as a result was blamed by some (including U.S. Secretary of State James Baker) for the failure of the summit. Later, as Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu restated Likud's position of opposing Palestinian statehood, which after the Oslo Accords was largely accepted by the opposition Labor Party, even though the shape of any such state was not clear.
The Likud emphasize such nationalist themes as the flag and the victory in Israel's 1948 war with neighbouring Arab states. The Likud advocates teaching values in childhood education. The Likud endorses press freedom and promotion of private-sector media, which has grown markedly under governments Likud has led. A Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon, however, closed the popular right-wing pirate radio station Arutz 7 ("Channel 7). Arutz 7 was popular with the settlement movement and often criticised the government from a right-wing perspective. However, the Likud is inclined towards the Torah and expresses support for it within the context of civil Judaism, as a result of its Irgun past, which aligned itself according to the word of the Tanakh.
Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party - which has dominated elections for half a century - traditionally identified itself with a number of general goals such as rapid, export-based economic growth and close cooperation with the United States in foreign and defense policies, as well as several newer issues, such as administrative reform. Administrative reform encompassed several themes: simplification and streamlining of government bureaucracy; privatization of stateowned enterprises; and adoption of measures, including tax reform, needed to prepare for the strain on the economy posed by an aging society.
Other priorities in the early 1990s included promoting a more active and positive role for Japan in the rapidly developing Asia-Pacific region, internationalizing Japan's economy by liberalizing and promoting domestic demand, creating a hightechnology information society, and promoting scientific research.
The Dutch conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy advocates lower taxes, legal cannabis and legal euthanasia. The Party for Freedom is a newly formed conservative party, advocating strict restriction on immigration from Muslim countries, free-market capitalism, and a return to humanist and Christian traditions. It is led by Geert Wilders.
The New Zealand National Party ("National" or "the Nats") currently forms the largest (in terms of parliamentary seats) political party in the next New Zealand Parliament, and thus function as the core of a governing coalition. For many decades "National" has been the largest liberal-conservative political party in New Zealand.
The National Party advocates policies of reducing taxes, reducing social welfare payments, promoting free trade, restoring or maintaining New Zealand's defence alliances, and promoting one standard of citizenship for all New Zealanders ("One law for all").
Saudi Arabia has been under the influence of conservative clerics who uphold a strict interpretation of Islamic law, and the monarchy supports conservative social polices. Women are required to dress modestly, and all sexual activity outside of a traditional heterosexual marriage is illegal. Dancing, playing music or showing movies in public are forbidden.
In Scandinavian countries, conservatism has been represented in liberal conservative parties such as the National Coalition party in Finland, the Moderate Party in Sweden, Høyre in Norway and the Conservative People's Party in Denmark. Domestically, these parties generally support market-oriented policies. Denmark's conservative-liberal Venstre has been characterized as a classical liberal party. Their current leader (Anders Fogh Rasmussen) wrote the book Fra Socialstat til Minimalstat (English: From Social State to Minimal State), which advocated an extensive reform along classical liberal lines.
In the 2008 parliamentary elections, the conservative Grand National Party won 37% of the vote in South Korea, compared with 25% for the liberal United Democratic Party . After decades of free market policies, free trade, and low taxation, South Korea is a major economic power and one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. It had one of the world's fastest growing economies since the 1960s, now highly developed and the fourth largest in Asia and 13th largest in the world. Forming the G20 industrial nations and the world's top ten exporters, it is an APEC and OECD member, defined as a High Income Nation by the World Bank and an Advanced Economy by the IMF and CIA. The Asian Tiger is leading the Next Eleven nations and is still among the world's fastest growing developed countries. Today, its success story is known as the "Miracle on the Han River", a role model for many developing countries.
Conservatism in the United Kingdom is related to its counterparts in other Western nations, but has a distinct tradition. Edmund Burke is often considered the father of conservatism in the English-speaking world.. Burke was a Whig, while the term Tory is given to the later Conservative Party. One Australian scholar argues, "For Edmund Burke and Australians of a like mind, the essence of conservatism lies not in a body of theory, but in the disposition to maintain those institutions seen as central to the beliefs and practices of society."
The old established form of English, and after the Act of Union, British conservatism, was the Tory Party. It reflected the attitudes of a rural land owning class, and championed the institutions of the monarchy, the Anglican Church, the family, and property as the best defence of the social order. In the early stages of the industrial revolution, it seemed to be totally opposed to a process that seemed to undermine some of these bulwarks. The new industrial elite were seen by many as enemies to the social order. Robert Peel was able to reconcile the new industrial class to the Tory landed class by persuading the latter to accept the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. He created a new political group that sought to preserve the old status quo while accepting the basics of laissez-faire and free trade. The new coalition of traditional landowners and sympathetic industrialists constituted the new Conservative Party.
Benjamin Disraeli gave the new party a political ideology. As a young man, he was influenced by the romantic movement and medievalism, and developed a devastating critique of industrialism. In his novels, he outlined an England divided into two nations, each living in perfect ignorance of each other. He foresaw, like Karl Marx, the phenomenon of an alienated industrial proletariat. His solution involved a return to an idealised view of a corporate or organic society, in which everyone had duties and responsibilities towards other people or groups. This "one nation" conservatism is still a significant tradition in British politics. It has animated a great deal of social reform undertaken by successive Conservative governments.
Although nominally a Conservative, Disraeli was sympathetic to some of the demands of the Chartists and argued for an alliance between the landed aristocracy and the working class against the increasing power of the middle class, helping to found the Young England group in 1842 to promote the view that the rich should use their power to protect the poor from exploitation by the middle class. The conversion of the Conservative Party into a modern mass organisation was accelerated by the concept of Tory Democracy attributed to Lord Randolph Churchill.
A Liberal-Conservative coalition during World War I, coupled with the ascent of the Labour Party, hastened the collapse of the Liberals in the 1920s. After World War II, the Conservative Party made concessions to the socialist policies of the Left. This compromise was a pragmatic measure to regain power, but also the result of the early successes of central planning and state ownership forming a cross-party consensus. This was known as Butskellism, after the almost identical Keynesian policies of Rab Butler on behalf of the Conservatives, and Hugh Gaitskell for Labour.
However, in the 1980s, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, and the influence of Keith Joseph, there was a dramatic shift in the ideological direction of British conservatism, with a movement towards free-market economic policies. As one commentator explains, "The privatization of state owned industries, unthinkable before, became commonplace [during Thatcher's government] and has now been imitated all over the world." Some commentators have questioned whether Thatcherism was consistent with the traditional concept of conservatism in the United Kingdom, and saw her views as more consistent with radical classical liberalism. Thatcher was described as "a radical in a conservative party" , and her ideology has been seen as confronting "established institutions" and the "accepted beliefs of the elite" , both concepts incompatible with the traditional conception of conservatism as signifying support for the established order and existing social convention.
See main article: Conservatism in the United States. Conservatism in the United States includes a variety of political ideologies including fiscal conservatism, supply-side economics, social conservatism, libertarian conservatism, bioconservatism and religious conservatism, as well as support for a strong military, . Modern American conservatism was largely born out of alliance between classical liberals and social conservatives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Contemporary American conservatism traces its heritage back to Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke, who developed his views in response to the French Revolution. US President Abraham Lincoln wrote, that conservatism is "adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried." US president Ronald Reagan, who was a self-declared conservative, is widely seen as a symbol of American conservatism. In an interview, he said "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." Organizations in the US committed to promoting conservative ideology include the American Conservative Union, Eagle Forum, Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution. US-based media outlets that are conservative include Human Events, National Review, Policy Review, and The Weekly Standard. Fox News has been accused of having a conservative bias which the network denies. (see: Criticism of Fox News Channel) The Center for Media and Public Affairs, however, released a report stating that Fox provided fair coverage during the 2007 campaign.
In the US, social conservatives emphasize traditional views of social units such as the family, church, or locale. Social conservatives would typically define family in terms of local histories and tastes. Social conservatism may entail restricting marriage to relationships between a man and a woman (thereby banning same-sex marriage) and laws placing restrictions on abortion. While many religious conservatives believe that government should have a role in promoting their values, libertarian conservatives such as Barry Goldwater advocated a hands-off government where social values were concerned.
There is no definitive explanation as to the factors that contribute to an individual's political ideology. However, psychological research increasingly suggests that ideologies reflect motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking. Research in 2008 proposed that ideologies may function as prepackaged units of interpretation that spread because of basic human motives to understand the world, avoid existential threat, and maintain valued interpersonal relationships. The authors conclude that such motives may lead disproportionately to the adoption of system-justifying worldviews.
Psychologists have generally found that personality traits, individual difference variables, needs, and ideological beliefs seem to have a common thread. For instance, a meta-analysis by Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway in 2003 analyzed 88 studies, from 12 countries, with over 22,000 subjects, and found that death anxiety, intolerance of ambiguity, lack of openness to experience, uncertainty avoidance, need for cognitive closure, need for personal structure, and threat of loss of position or self-esteem all contribute to the degree of one's overall political conservatism. The researchers suggest that these results show that political conservatives' stress resistance to change and justification of inequality and are motivated by needs that are aimed at reducing threat and uncertainty.
Research has also suggested that conservatives tend to be less flexible in their thinking than liberals.  It is said that conservatives are more likely to stick to a position and have less tolerance for ambiguity as opposed to liberals who are more likely to think in gray areas.
Jonathan Haidt suggests that American conservatives are much better at projecting themselves into the minds of American liberals than American liberals are at projecting themselves into the minds of American conservatives: "Liberals feel contempt for the conservative moral view, and that is very, very angering. Republicans are good at exploiting that anger." Arthur C. Brooks and Peter Schweizer say that evidence suggests that American conservatives are, on average, substantially happier and more productive than American liberals.
According to research by noted Psychologist Robert Altemeyer, individuals that are politically conservative tend to rank high on Right-Wing Authoritarianism, as measured by Altemeyer's RWA scale.  Those that are identified as high RWAs, in addition to having a tendency to be conservative, tend to wish to restrict personal freedoms, are more punitive toward criminals, and tend to hold more orthodox religious views.
Scores on the RWA scale also correlate highly with measures of ethnocentrism and hostility toward homosexuals. It is important to note that high RWAs tend to show more prejudiced attitudes when their answers on the questionnaires are anonymous. Recent research by Cunningham, Nezlek, and Banaji has found support for the idea that prejudice finds a home in people with rigid ideologies, as was predicted by Altemeyer as well as Theodor Adorno. Cunningham and his colleagues found that people who are high in explicit prejudice are also high in implicit prejudice, and that people who demonstrate a rigid, right-wing ideology tend to be prejudiced toward many disadvantaged groups that have little in common. Altemeyer admits he can't find a correlation with voting right-wing or left-wing parties. However, a study done on both Israeli and Palestinian students in Israel found that RWA scores of right-wing party supporters were significantly higher than those of left-wing party supporters. In the Soviet Union, authoritarians generally supported the Communist Party and were opposed to capitalism.
Psychologist Felicia Pratto and her colleagues have found evidence to support the idea that a high Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is strongly correlated with conservative political views, and opposition to social engineering to promote equality (such as affirmative action, laws requiring equal pay for women, and laws advocating equal rights for homosexuals. According to psychologists, an SDO is an attitude toward intergroup relationships which says that groups are subordinated and of lesser status than others.  High-SDO persons seek to maintain this structure by promoting group inequality and policies that help maintain the dominance of one group over another. Low-SDO persons seek to reduce group inequality and eliminate the hierarchical structure of society's groups.
Pratto and her colleagues also found that high SDO scores were also highly correlated with measures of sexism and anti-Black prejudice. There has been some debate within the psychology community on what the relation is between SDO and racism. One explanation suggests that opposition to programs that promote equality is based not on racism or sexism but on a "principled conservatism."  This perspective suggests that opposition to such programs is based not on racism but on a "concern for equity, color-blindness, and genuine conservative values."
Furthermore, some principled-conservatism theorists have suggested that racism and conservatism are independent, and only verly weakly correlated among the highly educated, who truly understand the concepts of conservative values and attitudes. In an effort to examine the relationship between education, SDO, and racism, Sidanius and his colleagues asked approximately 4,600 Euro-Americans to complete a survey in which they were asked about their political and social attitudes, and their social dominance orientation assessed. Results indicated partial support for the principled-conservatism position. However, the data suggest several problems for the principled-conservatism position. Contrary to what these theorists would predict, correlations among SDO, political conservatism, and racism were strongest among the most well educated, and weakest among the least well educated, according to Sidanius and his colleagues , because conservatives tend to be more invested in the hierarchical structure of society and in maintaining the inequality of the present status quo in society.