Several studies have shown that when social scientists get liberal-leaning experiment subjects to think about their own deaths or make them feel threatened, some left-wingers adopt more conservative values. This phenomenon played out after 9/11 — researchers found that there was a “very strong conservative shift” in the US after the attacks, with more liberals supporting Republican President George W. Bush and favoring increases in military spending.
The hypothesis social scientists developed about this effect is perhaps best summed up in a 2003 review of research on the subject: “People embrace political conservatism (at least in part) because it serves to reduce fear, anxiety, and uncertainty; to avoid change, disruption, and ambiguity; and to explain, order, and justify inequality among groups and individuals,” it said.
…But while inducing fear might shift a liberal mindset, conservatives have generally been more difficult for social scientists to sway in experiments — until now.
…The study authors say this is some of the first experimental evidence that making people feel completely safe can (temporarily) change their politics and make them more liberal.