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Jonathan Haidt Asks: Is Social Psychology Hostile Toward Non-Liberals?
Politics | February 09, 2011

Jonathan Haidt Asks: Is Social Psychology Hostile Toward Non-Liberals?

As Jonathan Haidt argued convincingly in his TED Talk, the moral structure of liberals is actually different from that of conservatives — which helps explain a great deal about American political ideology. Now, the social psychology speaker is turning his research inward, onto his own field. In a recent article on Haidt’s keynote at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference, The New York Times looks at what Haidt believes to be an inherent liberal bias in the field of social psychology:

From The New York Times:
[Dr. Haidt] 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.
Jonathan Haidt asks: Is the field of social psychology actually discriminatory towards conservatives and libertarians? Are social psychologists being shunned for proposing ideas that don’t fit with the prevailing ideologies of their colleagues? And finally, what can be done to remedy the problem? Both in his writing and on stage, Haidt continues to create refreshing intellectual debate. “For a tribal-moral community,” the Times writes, “the social psychologists in Dr. Haidt’s audience seemed refreshingly receptive to his argument.” Pushing academic and intellectual boundaries, Jonathan Haidt is a speaker, a thinker, and a scholar who is not afraid to ask the tough questions and challenge others in his field to do the same.


Read more about psychology speaker Jonathan Haidt
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