Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TED Talks - Jonathan Haidt: The real difference between liberals and conservatives

Cool stuff from TED Talks. For more from Haidt, see this Edge article.
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals -- and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It's a question with deep repercussions in war and peace -- and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of "You just don't get it!"

Haidt asks, "Can't we all disagree more constructively?" He suggests we might build a more civil and productive discourse by understanding the moral psychology of those we disagree with, and committing to a more civil political process. He's also active in the study of positive psychology and human flourishing.

Learn more about his drive for a more productive and civil politics -- and sign a pledge to engage in civil politics -- on his website And take an eye-opening quiz about your own morals at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill,

Haidt's ideas have that novel appeal, but seem pretty unrealistic. Asking people to understand the "moral psychology" of other people presumes that such a thing as "moral psychology" is itself something not in dispute, on several fronts, and I do not think that is the case.

Instead, far more solid is simply to ascertain, through discussion and inquiry, what one's core political principles are, and then proceed to not to try persuade against those principles, but instead to seek clarity of how one's surface political belief arise as direct result of the embedded core principles.

Frankly, I've been surprised when I ask of people to describe their core political principles, how little clarity otherwise intelligence people can actually verbalize coherently. I just don't see a lot of people thinking about what their core political principles are, which is in and of itself a problem more at the root than either Haidt or my first alternative.

Dude abiding,