Friday, January 11, 2008

Our government - pain-avoiding, or pleasure-seeking?

In an item on CBC Radio today about the US primaries and the ubiquitous “agent of change” that all candidates are trying to seize as their personal motto, there was a very interesting comment by one of the show’s guests. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist of his comment was that there are two great forces at play when humans consider making any change. One force (reason for change) was a pleasure-seeking force, while the second was a pain-avoidance force. He went on to say that, in his experience, liberals contemplated change as a means to enhance pleasure, whereas conservatives tended to view change primarily as a means to avoid pain.

There’s probably some hi-falutin’ psychological term for all this (and the requisite professor-authored $100 textbooks) but the general concept resonated with me, especially when one looks at the changes implemented by, or contemplated by, various Canadian governments over the years. Clearly there are going to be exceptions, but I think, generally, the premise is reasonably accurate and offers another interesting lens through which one can view the machinations on the Hill.

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