Magazine article Foreign Policy

98 Jonathan Haidt: For Revealing the Psychology of Partisanship

Magazine article Foreign Policy

98 Jonathan Haidt: For Revealing the Psychology of Partisanship

Article excerpt

Psychologist | New York

Why is it that poor Americans might vote against their apparent economic self-interest and pull the lever for a candidate like Mitt Romney? Jonathan Haidt, whose work explores the psychology of political and religious division, has a message for liberals: Conservatives understand how to speak to voters' moral concerns. Liberals, concludes Haidt, author of this year's The Righteous Mind, just don't get it.

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A leading member of a new generation of psychologists applying the insights of evolutionary theory to morality, Haidt argues that we form political opinions not through simple reasoning but based on moral preferences humans have developed to reinforce ties to larger groups or tribes. He identifies six values that form the baseline of any moral system: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Using experiments, ethnographies, and surveys of tens of thousands of people around the world, he demonstrates that both left--and right-leaning people respond positively to the first three values, though the left-leaning place greater emphasis on care and fairness. …

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