Proof that Liberals Literally Cannot Understand Politics with the Same Depth You Do
With another presidential election on the way, the divide between the political parties, and between conservatives and liberals, is widening. Surely it would be good if we could find a way to talk to each other more productively, and find some common ground. Perhaps a recent study can help bring us closer together.
A social psychologist named Jonathan Haidt has spent the bulk of his career trying to figure out what motivates both conservatives and liberals. He’s uncovered some interesting points, which have been published in a book called “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.”
According to Haidt’s research, there are five things people care about:
1. Avoidance of harm
Conservatives care about all five in equal measure and liberals care about only the first two. Here is a quote from the book, as transcribed by The American Conservative:
“It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become particularly discerning.”
There is also a sixth term, which both sides care about in equal measure: liberty. However, conservatives and liberals see the word as meaning two completely different things, according to the author.
Conservatives tend to view liberty as the notion of being left alone to pursue happiness in whatever way they choose. Liberals tend to view it as the act of creating a level playing field for society’s most vulnerable individuals.
A number of other studies have also concluded that conservatives and liberals are fundamentally different in their personalities, as well as their political points of view.
In a recent paper published on the subject, scientist John Jost says there is evidence from laboratories all over the world, utilizing different methodologies, leading to the “virtually inescapable conclusion that the cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different.”
Haidt’s research did uncover a significant area of commonality between conservatives and liberals, however. We both like our dogs to be clean. It’s a place to start.