Any discussion of “conservatives” and “liberals” is going to reduce both down to a caricature, so let’s just state, for the record, that not all conservatives write “Christ follower” in their Twitter bios and not all liberals hate God and love composting. Social conservatives, Schwarz says, tend to think the world is the way it ought to be. They’re more resistant to cultural change, such as the transgender-rights movement. Liberals, meanwhile, are often evaluating why things just don’t seem right; why the lives of some people aren’t as good as those of others. “Once you start questioning things, a lot of stuff is up for consideration,” Schwarz says. The world tends to be less meaningful to people who think tradition is unimportant and everything can—and possibly should—change on a dime.

“If you’re a person who has a clear sense of where they belong in society, and you’re a person who essentially looks to the past to established ways of living, it seems like a very short step to perceiving life as more ordered and meaningful,” said Colin Holbrook, a professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California at Merced.

Others agreed that this, shall we call it, “the way things ought to be” hypothesis has some merit.