Young Heads, Old Hearts
If a man is not a socialist in his youth, he has no heart. If he is
not a conservative by the time he is 30 he has no head.
Francois Guisot (1787-1874) said this first re “republican” while French Premier Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) changed it to “socialist”, and many others, including Winston Churchill have since said similar things. But new results seem to conflict:
We presented 60 younger and 60 older adults with health care choices that required them to hold in mind and consider multiple pieces of information. … The emotion-focus condition asked participants to focus on their emotional reactions to the options. … The information-focus condition … instructed to focus on the specific attributes, report the details about the options, and then make a choice. … Decision quality data indicate that younger adults performed better in the information-focus than in the control condition whereas older adults performed better in the emotion-focus and control conditions than in the information-focus condition. …
Fluid intelligence, that is, deliberative/effortful processing, peaks early in life followed by a steady decline thereafter. This component of intelligence comprises several subcomponents that all show consistent age-related decline including speed of information processing, temporary storage of information (i.e., short-term memory), and the storage and manipulation of information (i.e., working memory). Emotional processing, in contrast, appears to be well maintained at older ages. More important, this selective preservation of emotional processing is found even in working memory. …
Previous research has linked this age-related emphasis on emotion-regulatory goals to preferential processing of emotionally salient and positively valenced material among older relative to younger adults. … In advertising contexts, older adults prefer and better remember ads with emotionally meaningful appeal whereas younger adults prefer and better remember ads with knowledge-related appeal.
So do young folks actually choose socialism with their heads, or are they mistakenly listening to their hearts instead of their heads? Do old folks actually reject socialism with their hearts, not their heads? Do we even know that old folks actually like socialism less than young folks?
Added 11:30a: Four (!) comments point to OKCupid results suggesting young and old adults are economically socialist, while kids and the middle-aged are not, for self-interest reasons. People do seem to get more consistently socially restrictive with age, so maybe that is more tied to the young heads vs. old hearts trend.