Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Take the Morality Quiz!

First, read this: What Makes People Vote Republican? By Jonathan Haidt

Then take the morality quiz.

I did. In the graph below, I'm green, self-identified liberals who took the quiz are blue, and self-identified conservatives are red.

And here's the explanation of the graph:

The scale you completed was the "Moral Foundations Questionnaire," developed by Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia.

The scale is a measure of your reliance on and endorsement of five psychological foundations of morality that seem to be found across cultures. Each of the two parts of the scale contained four questions related to each foundation: 1) harm/care, 2) fairness/reciprocity (including issues of rights), 3) ingroup/loyalty, 4) authority/respect, and 5) purity/sanctity.

The idea behind the scale is that human morality is the result of biological and cultural evolutionary processes that made human beings very sensitive to many different (and often competing) issues. Some of these issues are about treating other individuals well (the first two foundations - harm and fairness). Other issues are about how to be a good member of a group or supporter of social order and tradition (the last three foundations).

Haidt and Graham have found that political liberals generally place a higher value on the first two foundations; they are very concerned about issues of harm and fairness (including issues of inequality and exploitation). Political conservatives care about harm and fairness too, but they generally score slightly lower on those scale items. The big difference between liberals and conservatives seems to be that conservatives score slightly higher on the ingroup/loyalty foundation, and much higher on the authority/respect and purity/sanctity foundations.

This difference seems to explain many of the most contentious issues in the culture war. For example, liberals support legalizing gay marriage (to be fair and compassionate), whereas many conservatives are reluctant to change the nature of marriage and the family, basic building blocks of society. Conservatives are more likely to favor practices that increase order and respect (e.g., spanking, mandatory pledge of allegiance), whereas liberals often oppose these practices as being violent or coercive.

The bottom line: Yours truly is liberal, liberal, liberal. I'm more liberal than most liberals! I'm so liberal, I think endangered baby seals are entitled to food stamps and free condoms!

And on that note, here's something else from today's New York Times: "Hold your heads up," by Bob Herbert.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just hate having to register for stuff like this. Otherwise, I'd be all over this quiz...