The minds of liberals and conservatives

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt

The biggest mistake in psychology is to think that the mind at birth is a blank slate. Instead, “the first draft” has already been written, and will now get revised by experience.

So says Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist whose book I reviewed here, in this TED talk. (I can’t embed TED videos, unfortunately.)

In particular, whether you’re liberal or conservative probably comes down to five aspects of your first draft, he says: How much you worry about/value:

  1. Harm/care
  2. Fairness/reciprocity
  3. the Ingroup/loyalty
  4. Authority/respect
  5. Purity/sanctity

In all cultures, liberals tend to value care and fairness most, but largely reject the ingroup, authority and purity as values. Conservatives tend to value them all. Thought-provoking.

Other reactions to the talk here and here.

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