What’s your bias? Psychological insights into political conflicts – Dr Lee De-Wit – 27/02/2018

What’s your bias? Psychological insights into political conflicts – Dr Lee De-Wit – 27/02/2018


Hello.
Welcome to this lunchtime lecture, delivered by Lee De-Wit
on ‘What’s your bias?’. My name is Rosemary Varley. I’m the Head of Language and Cognition, the Department in which Lee lives. I think you might be familiar
with these lunchtime lectures. Lee will talk for about 35-40 minutes, hopefully leaving us about 10 minutes
for questions and answers. My first task
is to introduce Lee to you. He first studied
Experimental Psychology at Bristol, followed by a PhD at Durham. He explored the topic of vision and used a range of behavioural
and neuroscience techniques to understand how
different parts of the brain enable us to see objects and shapes. In the course of his research, Lee studied a number
of different clinical populations. He became more and more interested
in understanding how differences in the brain means we sometimes
see things differently. As this research developed, Lee realised this approach
of understanding individual difference could be extremely valuable in trying to understand the polarisation
of views and opinions seen in politics. It’s probably not the case
that liberals or conservatives literally see the world differently. But, from individual differences
in sensitivity to threats, moral values
and personalities, there do seem to be psychological
underpinnings to our political disagreements. Lee has set up a third year module
in the psychology of politics at UCL to encourage more students to study
and understand these differences. He’s currently researching some
of the differences in moral values and cognitive biases that seem to influence our views
on controversial topics such as immigration
and the fairness of market capitalism. Lee is also working on an analysis
of the personality profile of different Brexit voters, we’re looking forward to those results, and exploring how individual
differences in political knowledge rate to the confidence with which
we make political decisions and engage
in the political process. Lees’s talk today
builds on his recent book, there are two copies in the room
and one up on the screen, we seem to be disappearing
into a marketing opportunity. The talk will touch
on some of Lee’s research, but the main focus will be
on the wider field of political psychology, in order to give you an insight
into how psychological research can help us understand
political conflicts. With great pleasure,
I introduce Lee de Wit. Thank you for that introduction,
Rosemary. I thought I might start
by taking a chance to deconstruct the somewhat
cheesy pop science title to this that we settled upon. The surprising science
of why we vote the way we do, part of my insight as a psychologist,
even from my Bachelors, was that sometimes we behave in ways
we don’t know the causes of. Sometimes we’re not aware
of some of the reasons why we behave the way we do. I think that’s a general lesson
from psychology. I think it’s particularly pertinent
with regards to some of the differences that shape how we vote. The surprising science of this, there has been work
on individual differences, trying to understand differences
of the left or right since the 50s. I think particularly
in the last 15 years or so, there’s been an advance in our attempt
to understand the individual differences that relate to why people
seem to vote differently. When I give this talk, sometimes I try
and cover all the chapters in my book. Today, I’m just going to talk
about the first two and go into those
in a bit more detail. The book tries to cover
a range of ways in which our psychology
shapes and influences the way in which
we make political decisions. The introduction to the book
is called, ‘The political animal’. I use the name of that chapter because I think it’s important to have
this starting point for recognising that the way we approach politics is very much shaped
by the type of animal we are. Particularly the type of animal
we have evolved to be. I focus on this because I think it’s one
of the most surprising bits of science in the sense that one
of the conclusions from this area that we seem to be quite confident about seems to be one that a lot of people
don’t assume to be true. I want to start
with this provocative question. Do you think your genes
influence how you vote? I want you to mull that over
for a second. Try and pick an answer in your mind. Try and definitively,
as if you’re at a ballot box, and have to pick one side
or the other. Make your vote to whether you think
genes can influence your vote. There seems to be quite a lot
of evidence that variability
in political attitudes on a whole range of issues, is higher amongst identical twins
than non-identical twins. This is one study
by Alford and colleagues in the US, a particularly prominent study
form 2005, looking at a wide range
of different issues from attitudes towards capitalism
to immigration to the death penalty. You see that when you look at
the correlation of attitudes amongst identical twins, the correlation amongst identical twins
is almost always higher than that that you see
for non-identical twins. Importantly, these are twins
who are raised separately. If you’re an identical twin
who is separated at birth, raised in entirely different homes, somehow you end up having
similar political attitudes on a whole range
of different issues. This is a study from the US. Actually, in every country where
we’ve done these large twin studies, it seems to be the case
that variability in political attitudes seems to have a heritable component. You’re more likely
to have similar attitudes to someone who shares your genes. Of course, the biology
of how genes encode RNA and these encode proteins is relatively well understood. How on earth we go
from genes encoding RNA and encoding for proteins to somehow having similarities
in political attitudes is a massive explanatory gap
for political psychology. And indeed for psychology
more generally. For lots of complex behavioural traits, you often see there is a greater degree
of similarity for identical twins, on a wide range of things
from differences in personality to differences in IQ. How it is you get from similarities
in genes to similarities in political attitudes
is not necessarily clear yet. Another thing
that’s interesting about this, I don’t know how many
were surprised that this is the case, that there seems to be
evidence for that. One reason I asked you to vote
explicitly before you decided is I’m curious if you thought
there wasn’t an influence are you wanting to question this result. If you did think there was
an influence, are you quite happy
this is the result? Do you see a confirmation bias
in how you respond to this evidence? That’s another thing
I explore in the book. The way in which once we make
definitive decisions about things, it can be quite hard to acknowledge
we might be wrong about them. I think that’s one thing that can shape
a degree of polarisation in politics. An interesting thing
about this difference in genetics is that there seems to be quite
a resistance to talking about it. This is a review paper from a colleague
and friend of mine, Gary Lewis. This paper from Alford et al in 2005, was replicating findings
from twin studies that had been found
back in the 70s and 80s. For a long time, nobody had been citing these studies. This is a graph illustrating how many
times these studies were cited, over the preceding years. There has been a long resistance
to discussing the idea that genetics might shape
or influence the way we vote. The Alford et al paper seems to have
broken through that threshold a bit. It’s interesting that even
from an academic perspective, there seems to be a lot of disciplines
in the political and social sciences, that don’t seem to be discussing
this evidence that there seems to be a genetic
component to how we might vote. We know there are individual differences
at the level of genetics that at least seem to relate to variants
in political attitudes. There’s a big explanatory gap between
how we get from differences in genes to differences in behaviour. One of the intermediate layers on which
there seems to be individual differences in our beliefs and values
that might shape the way we vote is in terms of differences we have
with how we think about morality. This is a perspective and theory that’s been advocated and discussed
for a long time by an American professor
called Jonathan Haidt. If I’m going to do any book promoting,
I should promote his, The Righteous Mind, which is a great exploration
of the morality we bring to politics and how that shapes polarisation. He’s been saying some quite
provocative things for a while, particularly speaking to liberal
academics in the US, saying they’re not doing enough to understand the reasons
people vote differently. Liberal American professors
dismissing Republican voters as stupid or religious probably isn’t good enough. We need to think harder about why people are making
different political decisions. He has a nice formulation that if you think
half of America votes badly, because they are stupid
or religious, you’re trapped in the matrix. This is a reference to the film,
The Matrix. You’re stuck in one version
of a constructed reality. You need to step outside
your version of constructing reality to try and understand how different
people are constructing reality. That’s quite a difficult claim
to understand in the abstract. I think vision science
helps illustrate quite pertinently the degree to which we are living
in a constructed reality, where we see the world in a way
shaped by our individual differences. Just out of curiosity,
who sees this as black and blue? Who sees it as white and gold? If you see it as black and blue, and you suddenly realise
your neighbour is seeing it wrong, what’s wrong with this person? What’s wrong with the way
their mind works? Can anybody switch? Sometimes there’s a few people
who can switch. It’s interesting
because for a lot of these illusions, like the duck/rabbit illusion, it’s often the case
you can switch both ways. This is a nice illustration of how our brain is constructing
a different representation of colour but we can’t switch easily
to see the other person’s perspective. Luckily, colour vision is something
scientists have been thinking about for a long time. This is an image developed
by ideas from Beau Lotto, a professor here at UCL, looking at colour constancy. I won’t go into why
we see this illusion in different ways, but it’s to do with how
we interpret light sources and whether the light source
is reflecting on the dress. For those of you who could see it
as white and gold, can some of you now see it
as black and blue? For some of you who could see it
as black and blue, can some now see it
as white and gold? At least some of you
are nodding. A little bit of understanding
of the science of why this happens can perhaps help us see it
from an alternative perspective. I think that’s a good way of trying
to illustrate what Haidt is arguing, about trying to step back from your own
constructed version of reality to see things differently. I’m not saying that Liberals and
Conservatives literally see differently, although there are some hints
there might be some visual tasks that they perform differently on. Jonathan Haidt has argued that we come to the world pre-prepared to think and reason about morality. He thinks that moral foundations
are innate. The way in which we reason
about morality has an innate basis. That’s quite a provocative claim. He means something
quite particular by that. This is that morality is organised
in advance of experience. It’s not that we come to the world
knowing what’s right and wrong. We’re already primed to be thinking
about moral issues along a number of dimensions. He uses tastes or language
as an analogy to this. We’re not born knowing
a particular language but we’re born with a propensity
to learn language. Similarly with taste receptors, we might all be sensitive
to different tastes, but depending on the culture
we’re brought up in, we might prefer certain tastes
to others. Haidt argues that morality
is a bit like taste. We have a sensitivity to a range
of different moral foundations. He argues in particular that Liberals tend to have a bias
to think about morality just as fairness and harm. This is narrowing our understanding
of the range of issues to which some people
have moral sensitivities. If we’re going to understand some
of the differences and politics, we need to think about morality across
a wider range of dimensions. Haidt argues these include fairness,
harm, loyalty, authority and sanctity. What’s interesting about these, is that Haidt and others
have done a lot of work, and I’ve replicated this
in a few samples in the UK, finding that you can ask the question
in different ways, but if you define yourself as left wing
or right wing, liberal or conservative, you tend to differ in your emphasis
on the importance of these moral values. Both people on the left and right
seem to care about fairness and harm, although it seems a bit higher
for people on the left. When it comes to questions about
loyalty or authority or sanctity, this seems to be something
that is more the preserve or concern of people who would identify
more towards the right. I won’t try and explain
what all these foundations are. I’m going to focus on loyalty
because I think it’s a salient one for trying to understand
some recent political events. What’s nice about the way Haidt
measures this and tests this, is that he tries to get at people’s
understanding of loyalty in a non-political context. The way in which he measures how much
you care about ingroup loyalty is by asking questions
that have nothing to do with politics. He asks questions like, how bad is it to publicly bet
against your favourite sports team? This is a public declaration
of being disloyal to your ingroup. Haidt finds that people who identify
more towards the left or liberal side, don’t think this is a big moral issue. They don’t think this
is a wrong thing to do. For Conservatives, this is much more
of a moral issue. It’s not hard to extrapolate as to how
that might play out in political context as to why certain political slogans
might be so appealing to some and leave others cold. I think when we think about Trump’s
Make America Great Again, there’s an explicit call
to promote the sense of pride and celebrating and improving
your nation. Trump is almost explicitly communicating to this sense of ingroup loyalty that is important to people who identify
as being more conservative. You can contrast that
with Hillary Clinton, who referred to Trump’s supporters
during the presidential campaign as ‘a basket of deplorables’. You could argue about how good that is
as a political strategy, but framed in terms of
moral foundation theory, you can see that what she’s doing
is violating her ingroup. She’s saying this group of American
citizens are a basket of deplorables. This is a very explicit statement of being not loyal
to your own citizens or ingroup. That’s thinking about it
from the Conservative perspective. From the Liberal perspective, for those who identify more on the left, you hear this slogan and think,
why is that interesting? Why are you saying that? What policies does that convey? What information does that convey? To someone on the left
who identifies more as a liberal, this is a flatter claim or statement. There’s some interesting evidence
that this is an influential way of shaping political decisions
in the US. A couple of psychologists
had the foresight to try and test moral foundation theory
during the US election. They identified a group
of Conservative voters, a group of moderate voters
and a group of Liberal voters. For all of them,
they tried to persuade them not to vote for Trump. They did that in different ways. They either did that based on
an argument centred in fairness, so questioning Trump’s fairness, or they did it on an argument
questioning Trump’s loyalty. They found that for conservative voters, you can see liberal voters
are unlikely to vote Trump anyway, but for conservative voters you see
that an argument based on loyalty is much more likely to dissuade them
from voting against Trump than an argument based on fairness. I think that’s quite a powerful
causal demonstration, that if you try and morally frame
your arguments, in terms of the values that are
more prominent to the other side , you could be more effective
in dissuading them. The study did test
the alternate hypothesis with Hillary. The effects weren’t so strong
but they were in the same direction. This is something I’m currently
trying to test with regards to Brexit. For example, if you frame an argument
in favour of leaving the EU in terms of fairness, for example, it’s not fair to citizens
in the rest of the world that we preferentially give access
to citizens in the EU to migrate here, could be more effective
in persuading a liberal that Brexit isn’t so bad. And vice versa for conservatives. I’m currently trying to test whether
this moral foundation theory might also be influential in persuading
people to vote different ways. A lot of the illustrations
of the effectiveness of this are more evident in the US, but I think it is a salient issue
for British politics also. Stepping outside my role
as a scientist, I think I would question whether there’s
a psychological blind spot on the left in the UK to the importance
of ingroup loyalty for some voters. This is a famous tweet
from Emily Thornberry, when she was
in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, tweeting this image from Rochester, clearly mocking this person’s display
of patriotism and ingroup loyalty. She had to resign from
the shadow cabinet because of this. I think it’s illustrative
of a way of thinking on the left that’s very dismissive
of this idea of ingroup loyalty and celebrations of it. I think this argument is similar
to one that’s been developed by David Goodhart, who’s characterised the divide in Brexit between what he calls people from
anywhere and people from somewhere. The idea that there’s
a liberal class to society, who will happily live in different
cities and work all over the place, versus people who are rooted
somewhere in their community and their sense of loyalty
and ingroup identity. I think that maybe can give us
a little bit of insight into some of the differences that shape
how people vote on the left and right. I also want to focus now on differences
in attitudes towards inequality. I think this is a really salient
political issue at the moment and also one that’s quite polarised, where people on the left and right
have quite different views of the importance of this
and the cause of this. I highlight this because I like
Haidt’s moral foundation theory, but I don’t think it’s something
that Haidt’s theory really explains. I think we need to dig a little deeper
to find why inequality, for Barack Obama,
is ‘the defining challenge of our time’. For voters on the right,
the more conservative, often this isn’t seen
as such a salient issue. Paul Bloom,
who’s a psychologist at Harvard, wrote a review paper looking at the way
people evaluate and make decisions about inequality and unfairness. He comes to a conclusion reviewing
a wide range of experimental evidence, that people don’t care
about equality per se, they care about proportionality. To make this intuitive, if you leave your kids at home and tell
them I’ll give you £10 when I get home if you tidy up, then you come home and find one has
just lounged around in the living room, and one of them has done all the work, you’re going to feel it’s unfair
to give them both £10. Even though that would be
the equal thing to do. Paul Bloom’s argument is that when
you look carefully at the evidence, we really seem to value proportionality
not simply equal outcomes. This seems consistent
with polling data in the US. This seems to suggest
that people on the left and right have different attitudes
towards the causes behind wealth and poverty. This is data
from the Pew Research Centre. They asked people why they think
someone is rich or poor. It’s one of the question
that strongly pulls apart Democrats and Republicans. You see that if you are Republican
or lean that way, you’re more likely to think someone
is rich because they worked harder. Whereas if you’re a Democrat, you’re more likely to think
it’s because they’ve had advantages. The reverse pattern is evident
for why someone is poor. If you lean Republican, you tend to think
is due to a lack of effort. If you lean Democrat,
you’re more likely to think this is due to circumstances
beyond your control. This seems to be something
that is growing stronger over time. There are different
potential explanations for this. One of them that John Jost
would probably argue is what he’s called
system justification theory. The people on the right,
for other reasons, are motivated to justify
the system that they’re in. If there is inequality, it must be justified in some way, so they construct arguments
to justify it. That probably has some role
to play here, but something
I’ve been thinking about a lot is whether there’s
a more underlying bias to see things more contextually
or more individually, depending on whether you identify
more on the left or right. I think this is something that Obama
has articulated quite explicitly. If you’ve been successful,
you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think
it must be because I was so smart. There are a lot of smart people
out there. It must be because I worked harder
than everybody else. Let me tell you, there are a bunch
of hard working people out there. If you were successful,
somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher
somewhere in your life. Somebody helped create this
unbelievable American system we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads
and bridges. If you have a business,
you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn’t get invented
on its own. That quote, ‘If you’ve got a business,
you didn’t build that’, that really touched a nerve. Particularly when it was
taken out of context and reproduced by itself. That Alford et al paper
I mentioned about genetics, it’s a genetics paper, but in the discussion of that paper, they speculated in a way
that’s not proportionate to their data, that maybe what’s underlying this is some sort of underlying phenotype, to see things more at an absolute level or a contextual level. I’m going to describe this as individual
level versus contextual level. Barack Obama seems to be quite clearly
articulating this view. If you want to understand success, you need to understand the context
in which that success happens. Not surprisingly, that claim
really touched a nerve. This led to a lot of memes mocking and
criticising this view of the world. Here’s his Nobel Peace Prize,
you didn’t earn that. There’s a termite hill,
you didn’t build that. You can see this touches a nerve. There’s something underlying this. People on the right
really aren’t happy about it. This is one of the things,
in writing the book, that I thought there is other evidence
consistent with this. Adrian Furnham,
who was a Professor at UCL, did some research back in the 80s, where he found that people
on the right tended to think that behavioural traits
or differences were more likely to be caused
by genetics. There’s some hint there
that people on the right tend to think differences in behaviour
are caused by intrinsic factors. It seems to be more complicated
than that. There’s been papers since that
that suggest it’s not that simple. Another area that this plays out is
attitudes towards capital punishment and attitudes towards crime
more generally. I think Tony Blair’s
classic centrist formulation is a good illustration of this. Tough on crime,
that’s what the right people want. Tough on the causes of crime,
that’s what people on the left want. There seems to be
an individual difference that people on the right tend to think
that if someone commits crime it’s due to something inherent
in their nature. People on the left think it’s more to do
with context and circumstance. This difference in belief structures seems to predict
and at least correlate with attitudes
towards capital punishment. If you’re more likely to think
things have an inherent cause in someone’s personality you’re more likely to be
in favour of capital punishment, because what can you do except get rid
of them if they’re inherently bad. I was reviewing the evidence for this
while writing my book and it was something that I wasn’t
satisfied there wasn’t enough evidence to nail down
this is a prominent distinction between what’s going on
on the left or right. With a third year project, Oscar Nagy,
who successfully submitted this, we developed a number of stories
of success and failure. I won’t read through them. They are stories
where it’s a bit ambiguous. Partly the child is working hard,
partly the family is helping. We have a whole range of these. We asked people to what extent do you
attribute the character’s success or failure
primarily to their own effort or primarily to upbringing, schooling
or opportunities? We’re not describing it in that way. This is the individual, absolutist side. This is the contextual side. We found quite a striking correlation
between these things. If you work in the social sciences, finding a correlation of 0.5
is something you’d be happy with. This is quite a big correlation
between these things. If you look at how left or right wing
someone is, this correlates with their answers
to these stories as to whether it’s due to
the diligence of the individual or the upbringing or circumstances. Although, I should highlight
this is quite a limited sample with only 100 participants and only people
from Western democracies. That’s something I hope
to replicate again over the summer and find more evidence for this. Just to quickly recap, psychology can help us understand that there are individual differences
that shape the way in which we might process
and understand the world. A prominent one here is thinking
about individual differences in moral foundations. Whether it’s fairness, harming,
ingroup loyalty, purity or authority, these differ across
the political spectrum. This can maybe give us some insight
into why political slogans might be salient and appealing
for some people and not others. Perhaps on the left in the UK, there seems to be
a definite antagonism, with a degree of patriotism
or ingroup loyalty on the right. Moral foundation theory
cannot explain everything in how we make political decisions. There also seem to be differences
in how we reason about the causes of wealth. Whilst Bloom might be right
that we care about proportionality, whether we care whether
allocating wealth to different people is based on their effort, liberals and conservatives differ
on their interpretation of the causes. Liberals are more likely to think
the context has been more important. Conservatives are more likely to think
that individual effort seems to be more important. As I highlight, that’s something
that requires further research. I’ll finish there. Perfectly timed, Lee. We have time for some questions. Can you wait
until a microphone reaches you. We’ve got one here. Do you see any connection
between the explanations that you’ve given as connected to the Nobel work
of David Kahneman? Yeah. More broadly, he’s well recognised
for this distinction between system one
and system two ways of thinking. Sometimes our responses to things
are not based on a reflective, conscious
decision-making process, but sometimes we go with intuitive,
gut responses to things. We don’t necessarily know
where those gut responses come from. That’s a way of thinking about this
that Haidt articulates. He uses
a slightly different metaphor. Haidt talks about the elephant
and the rider. He has the idea that when
we make certain moral decisions, first we have this intuitive gut
response of I like or don’t like that
or agree or disagree. Basically, our elephant stomps off
in one direction. Then, our conscious rational mind,
the rider, is then left trying to explain to itself why its running off in this direction. Haidt has some nice examples when you ask people’s
moral judgement on things, they can be very sure
of their judgement, but when you ask why,
you can see the answers they give are unconnected and don’t explain
the difference in their decision making. I think that way of thinking
is quite useful. Although, there’s debate in psychology
as to whether it is useful to refer to this system one
and system two because people
then take it too literally and think there’s
a system one brain system and a system two brain system. It isn’t like that but it is maybe a useful way of thinking
about the causes of different behaviour but don’t take them too seriously
as distinct modes of thought. I think it’s a similar question I have. You talk a lot about the differences,
but you don’t talk about the causes. Do you think there are
neurobiological causes inherent given that it links to
the genetic hypothesis as well? Yeah. For example, this system justification theory. There was some work from UCL
a couple of years ago, showing that liberals and conservatives
seem to have a different sized amygdala. This is an area in the brain
important in processing of emotions, particularly in threat sensitivity. Actually, there seems to be
quite a bit of evidence that conservatives have
a higher sensitivity to threat. One of the interesting pieces
of evidence for this recently is that particularly social
conservatives seem to be more likely
to believe fake news if it’s fake news about threats. This finding was originally published
by Kanai et al at the Institute
of Cognitive Neuroscience. Jost and colleagues have recently tried
to replicate this finding. They didn’t replicate
the same finding. They found that the size of the amygdala correlated with how much
system justification people do. That’s very consistent with Jost’s idea that people who are more conservative are more anxious about threats and so because they’re worried
about the threat of things, they sometimes want to justify
the status quo. As I said, what do you want
as a causal explanation? Is it because it’s biological? Is it more of a primary cause? There’s also some evidence
that your upbringing might be able to influence the size
and shape of your amygdala. The most I would want to say
is that there seems to be a difference
in genes, for example, and they relate to politics. How we get there,
the causal steps involved, are something
we don’t yet understand. Thank you for your talk. I have a question. You talk about ingroup loyalty
and seem to be, correct me if I’m wrong, associating that with the axis
of liberal/conservative. You used the example
of Make America Great Again versus the Clinton
basket of deplorables. Are those two examples not both
demonstrations of ingroup loyalty? The basket of deplorables
is very much an example of separating or othering
a group of people, the basket of deplorables, in the same way
as Make America Great Again. Is it actually
more complicated than that? Could you speak to that? I definitely agree with that. It’s not that these are
all or nothing differences. It’s not that if you’re on the left you have no sensitivity
to ingroup loyalty. There’s tribalism
on the left and right. This statement
of the basket of deplorables, I think you’re right that it is a signal
of ingroup loyalty to the left, saying let’s look down
on these other people. I think the point I wanted to make, something that people like
George Lakoff and Jonathan Haidt argue about what’s going on
in American politics, is that the left in particular
is particularly bad at using the moral values
that are important to the right to appeal to the right. Sometimes they might do this
in a way that appeals to the left. They’re particularly bad at doing it
in a way that appeals to the right. Thank you for the talk. I’m doing some work on this
but from the other side. I work in political theory
and philosophy, trying to incorporate insights
in political psychology across. I do find the work of Haidt et al
quite interesting. I was wondering,
if from the literature, and also your own views, what prescriptions we take from this
going forward. One way of reading this research is these people have
these fundamental values Let’s say six,
and we only have three. That tells us if we want
to win them over tactically, we may need to frame
our messages a different way. I don’t understand how Haidt comes to it with his background
in political consultancy and things. In terms of taking a step back
and thinking how should we proceed as Democrats, let’s say, I’m not sure that’s how we can
tactically get them on side by reframing arguments
has as much principled appeal. I don’t know what sort of views
you think come from this. Thank you. I think this idea that
an argument based on loyalty could have been more effective
at dissuading people voting Trump, I just want to use this
as causal evidence that this theory is useful. I’m not trying to promote
that one side should use this to win political arguments. As a citizen more generally, I think what really concerns me
is also this us and them mentality that causes us to see things
one way or another. It makes it very hard to then
take the other’s perspective. If I have an ulterior motive in this, it’s that I’d like people on different
parts of the political spectrum to think more about the perspective
the other side is taking so that we can communicate better
with each other and perhaps reach better compromises. We have time for one more short question
and answer. I’ll try to be brief. Can you hear me? A philosopher might want to question
the epistemological foundation of your analysis. It seems to be from the basket
of deplorables concept you presented, there seems to be a lack of semantic
clarity and logical consistency. In fact, I’d go further and say many
of the moral problems people face and that academics discuss, are really logical problems. If they would define terms
such as equality properly, and justice, and morality,
and ethics, then we would resolve the problem. What we need is more philosophy
in psychology than psychology. Thanks for the short question! One area that I disagree with Haidt is that he says because
these are evolved sensitivities, we should think of them
as morals. I don’t agree with him. I think morals are things
that we can socially construct. We have a complex information processing
system that means we don’t have to agree
with what evolution told us to think are important moral values. I don’t agree with Haidt in saying
we should use evolution to understand what we should think is right and wrong. But, I think understanding the
intuitions that people do bring, is important. I think for some of the
political disagreements that we have, I think they often jump
into a binary us and them. We pick one side or the other
based on our intuitions. Then we never understand the policy
we’re talking about. I agree that we need to get more
into precise understanding of what policy decisions
we want to make. I think we need
to understand the psychology to make sure we don’t get into this
us and them fight before doing that. I’m going to wrap it up
and thank the audience for attending and Lee.

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