STUDY: ‘Tolerant’ Liberals Less Likely to Befriend Conservatives Than Vice Versa


The ‘tolerant’ left is not so tolerant after all: liberals were considerably more likely to be averse to associating with members from the opposite political party than conservatives, according to a recent university study.

The “Free Expression and Constructive Dialogue” report by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that 23.4 percent of “self-identified liberals” were unwilling to be friends with someone from across the aisle, over eight times more than the three percent of “self-identified conservatives” who felt the same way.

Thirty-five percent of liberals were opposed to rooming with conservatives, nearly six times more than the other way around.

A majority of liberals – 60.2 percent – would not date conservatives, twice as likely as the 30.2 percent of conservatives who felt that way.

Liberals were also thrice as likely to think conservatives students are “important to campus community,” and twice as likely to feel that way toward conservative professors.

Results from the 2019 UNC Study on “Broader Orientations Toward Political Outgroup.”


The only two categories where the disparities were not as pronounced are whether students “enjoy taking classes with students from the outgroup,” although liberals still beat conservative by nearly a six percentage point margin, and if the UNC campus would “be better” without students from the other group, with liberal intolerance still creating a disparity of eight percentage points. 

The report also included two responses from interviewees.

One comment from a liberal student encapsulated the findings above: “I don’t think I could be friends with the conservatives personally, because I know that our values are completely different. I mean I think that conservatives should be allowed to exist or whatever. But I’m not going to…I wouldn’t put someone in my support group that is someone who hates poor people.”

The other comment, hailed by the study as “illustrating” how “most respondents were willing to acknowledge a need for political diversity on campus” was marginally better.

The liberal student was only willing to “put up” with conservatives “every now and then”: “I disagree with most of their [conservatives’] viewpoints. I mean, coming from just my point of view, but I think it’s definitely helped me to have a diversity (of) political opinion and talk on our campus. I mean I wish they would speak up a little bit more in class every now and then. It just like kind (of) to facilitate a healthy discussion. So, I don’t really have a problem with them being in my classes or like speaking up every now and then.”

The study even heads the section with “many respondents are open to engaging socially with students who don’t share their political views, but a substantial minority is not,” burying the lede that the “substantial minority” is exclusively liberal.

Ironically, UNC has a publicly-funded Office for Diversity and Inclusion aimed at “sustaining the kind of community where all feel welcomed, respected and free to pursue their goals and dreams” and allegedly “celebrates all forms of diversity.”

Yet, as with most universities, diversity of thought isn’t part of the protected class of racial, gender, ethnic, and countless other types of identity-driven diversity.

Conservative professors are virtually non-existent: the same study showed students felt only 1.9 percent of professors were “conservative” and .7 percent were a “strong conservative.”

Results from the 2019 UNC Study on professor party affiliation.


Similarly, a free exchange of ideas was stifled in the classroom: nearly 70 percent of conservatives reported self-censoring their views at least once, three times as likely as their liberal counterparts.

Results from the 2019 UNC Study on self-censoring views.


Conservatives were also considerably more likely to fear receiving lower grades, friends, and social media backlash for voicing their viewpoints:

Results from the 2019 UNC Study on concerns about sharing viewpoints.


But the best part of the whole study?

Conservatives were nearly three times as likely to describe their liberal counterparts as “tolerant” and “open-minded” than vice-versa.

Results from the 2019 UNC Study on cross-party stereotypes.

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is freelance reporter.

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