Thursday, February 04, 2010

Why Liberal Hearts Bleed

Ever wondered how people can draw moral conclusions that seriously differ?
Ever wondered how "liberals" and "conservatives" can have such different emotional responses to situations?

I learned something today that is helping me unravel this enigma.

Assigned to research the concept of intuition, I stumbled upon the article abstract copied below. Call it an "A-ha!" moment...the article helped me understand why conservatives and liberals can both believe that they are thinking on morally...yet still disagree as to what should be done.

Below is the article abstract. (I love article abstracts...entire articles boiled down to a paragraph!)
I've split the paragraph into several parts as the last parts has the bingo! for clarifying the problem.


When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize

Jonathan Haidt1, 2
and Jesse Graham1
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400, USA
Published online: 23 May 2007

Researchers in moral psychology and social justice have agreed that morality is about matters of harm, rights, and justice. On this definition of morality, conservative opposition to social justice programs appears to be immoral, and has been explained as a product of various non-moral processes such as system justification or social dominance orientation.

In this article we argue that, from an anthropological perspective, the moral domain is usually much broader, encompassing many more aspects of social life and valuing institutions as much or more than individuals.

We present theoretical and empirical reasons for believing that there are five psychological systems that provide the foundations for the world’s many moralities. The five foundations are
psychological preparations for detecting and reacting emotionally to issues related to:

1. harm/care
2. fairness/reciprocity
3. in group/loyalty
4. authority/respect
5. purity/sanctity

Political liberals have moral intuitions primarily based upon the first two foundations, and therefore misunderstand the moral motivations of political conservatives, who generally rely upon all five foundations.

I googled around a little bit and discovered a website created by the authors of this study. Now here is where it gets fun: You can take part in studies about morality being done by major universities, and in the process find out where you stand in comparison to other liberals and conservatives that have taken the tests.

Personally...I'd like my conservative moral "bent" to be added to the surveys. How about you? The surveys only take a few minutes after registering (a quick process by the way...) and you can register HERE.

If you are curious about those five foundations, the web site's home page has expanded information.

I think I've found something worth discussing and exploring here.

I just wish we were all able to sit around a table over treats and chat this up for awhile.

Well, after all, this is just "food for though"...not "food for making us fatter". Maybe this electronic gulf has its advantages in the end.

Maybe this is why computers have cookies...they eat them while processing our thoughts???


running wildly said...

Ahahaha. Computers eating cookies. Geeze Jill.....the brilliant stuff you come up with. ;)

Lovella ♥ said...

There are days that I'd love to have a rousing debate with someone who disagrees .. just to pick their brain. I would however that person to be someone I don't have to have a relationship with. . it would just be easier.

Sara said...

Your inquiring mind is just right for your reference librarian job! I'm not so good at these discussions, but I'll bring the treats and come listen to the rest of you. I'm always interested in hearing what other people think about things.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Cool topic! [I saw you mention it, in Vee's blog, btw. :-)] Anyway... Cooooool!

You said; "Personally...I'd like my conservative moral "bent" to be added to the surveys. How about you?"

And here is a twist, to throw into the chat-about-it-pot. :-) I'm a Conservative Agnostic.

And hooray for your idea of "food for though"...not "food for making us fatter". -giggles-