Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Liberals Don't See Their Own Hypocrisy

From the New York Times, of all places:

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”

It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

He said it, not me. I just agree wholeheartedly.


DADvocate said...

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but one of the great ironies of this is that psychology is the study of human behavior, motivation and emotion. Much of what the liberals preach and believe in runs against the knowledge we have on human behavior, motivation and emotion.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Come on DADvocate, how could "much of what liberals preach and believe in run(s) against the knowledge we have on human behavior, motivation and emotion? Whatever else liberals might be they're still human beings. Therefore the problem's with our understanding of human behavior, etc.

I don't find lefties to be much of a mystery. As long as you keep in mind that one spectrum of human behavior lies along the line between hermit-like individuality and Big Brother-like submergence in the group lefties aren't hard to understand at all.

Lefties have a very strong group orientation which in some cases is pretty funny in that they put their individuality on display by all wearing "Che" t-shirts or some other individuality-burying emblem. Like all strongly-identifying members of an identity group everyone outside the group is, at least, an object of suspicion and any resistance to the goals of the group uncorks a pretty wild defensive reaction.

MikeAT said...

Damned with numbers like that you would think this was a meeting of Washington journalists.

Anonymous said...

The irony isn't just that liberals do this.

The larger irony is that you seem to be implying that conservatives don't do this, i.e., that it's a "liberal" problem.

Because of course, everyone human has this problem. Selective perception is rampant throughout humanity; it isn't confined to a particular political perspective.

That's not true for everything, of course. An interesting question is whether you would expect conservatives or liberals to (a) acknowledge that this bias exists; and (b) do something about it.

Dis you read this and think "wait a second... could I be holding that kind of unconscious bias? Could my group's choices be similarly affected?" Or did you read this and nod at "those liberals," secure in the assumption that you and your peers have all risen above bias and internalized judgments?

If the latter, well... Pot, meet kettle.

Darren said...

Well, anonymous, please identify a group that's largely conservative that doesn't recognize that it's largely conservative. *That* is the point of the article.