One trait in particular led the pack, however, and this one was somewhat surprising. That trait? Death anxiety. That’s right. There was no stronger predictor of conservative political belief than a “persistent fear of one’s own mortality.”
Death is inevitable, a fate destined for all of us. Yet despite its universality, it is the ultimate unknown. We can peer into the distant reaches of space and time, yet we will almost certainly never see past our own mortality. Death is an end. As conscious, living beings, it is only natural to be afraid of it.
And those who fear it more, it seems, tend to be ideologically conservative.
They also tend to be more religious.
A 2011 study measured religiosity and fear of death in college students in Malaysia, Turkey, and the United States. The researchers behind the study discovered that subjects who reported a greater fear of death were also more religious. Interestingly, another study examining death anxiety within religious groups showed that parishioners who reported stronger belief showed reduced death anxiety than those reporting weaker belief. Fear may drive people to religion, but religion also alleviates their fear of death.