In trying to answer the question, I think I've almost cheated and categorised myself in both camps. Firstly, I have history attempting to come to terms with ideologies through writing about them. Look at my short film April 3rd (2006). It was written to examine what might go through a terrorists head, on the day that launch an attack. Now obviously I'm not a terrorist - but it was interesting to put myself into somebody else's shoes and try to see the world from their point of view.
Meanwhile something like Ushers (2014) can only be created because I have an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter. Honestly, on day one of working the cinema I couldn't possibly have created that film. If it works (and I hope it does) it's only because I was writing about something from my life, that I didn't need to examine or get into the head-space of.
I suppose this means the answer to my question is that my approach to writing changes with each individual project. Sometimes that project represents me wanting to go out and learn about something; other times I just feel the need to shout off about things in my life, in the hope that you'll find them funny or moving, and learn from them.
Both methods can be thrilling and also rewarding, often in equal measure. I will say, however, that I'm more confident about the ideas that I already know inside out. That's not to say I prefer these... just I don't have to stress so much "am I doing the theme justice?!"
Anyway, only a short one today. I'll leave you with a song; one I use to really like when it was first released a decade ago. This is an acapella cover of the first half: