Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bay of Fundie: The difference between liberals and conservatives.

Bill Moyers interviewed social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Haidt has a yet unpublished book titled The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. 

Moyers’ intro sums up Haidt’s premise:

Haidt thinks that liberals misunderstand conservatives more than the other way around, and that while conservatives see self-sufficiency as a profound moral value for individuals, liberals are more focused on a public code of care and equity.

Lawrence Kohberg was also a psychologist who developed a theory  of moral development. Kohlberg followed in the footsteps of developmental psychologists like Piaget and Eric Erickson. Kohlberg classified people within three levels: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. Each level has two stages.

Charles Hampden-Turner, in his book, Radical Man, equated Kolberg's conventional level with conservatism and post-conventional thinking with liberal thought.

Kohlberg noticed that stage 4 conventionals had problems understanding Stage 5 post-conventional thought. Post-conventional thinkers understand conventional thought but reject many of the ideas as rigid and authoritarian,

Haidt's book describes six foundations. These foundations  are valued differently by liberals and conservatives.

Haidt's Foundations as valued by liberals and conservatives

Stage 4 conventionals have an authority and social-order maintaining orientation based on a law and order morality. Conservatives tends to look at the world as black and white with moral absolutes on homosexuality, abortion and the Bible. This explains why conservatives value loyalty, authority and sanctity more so than post-conventionals.

Because conventionals don't really understand post-conventional thought, they tend to see post-conventional thinkers as pre-conventional Stage 3 instrumentals egoists. Rightardia suspects Haidt is probably a stage 4 conservative.

This is why conservatives often view liberals as thugs, anarchists  trouble-makers. The Occupy movement is a good example. Yet more than half of the demonstrators are independents.

When Andrew Breitbart encountered some of the Occupy demonstrators, he became highly agitated and kept yelling, "you behave" over and over. This is because conservatives expect people to be conformist and adhere to their their pre-conceived nations of behavior.

Rightardia thinks Kohlberg offers a better explanation for the political divide in the US because he provides developmental approach. Haidt's moral concerns are arbitrary laundry list of abstract terms that he uses to contrast liberals and conservatives.

Rightrdia has mentioned scientists have discovered cognitive differences in liberals and conservatives. Liberals have larger corpus callosums. The corpus callosum is the largest white matter structure in the brain,

Self-proclaimed right-wingers have a more pronounced amygdala. This is a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion.

Haidt seems to fall into the trap that liberals and conservatives are just different sides of the same coin. Rightardia thinks there are intellectual differences between liberal and conservatives and this may be caused by brain structure and strikingly different intellects.


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