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What We're Disgusted By Shapes Our Morality: Jonathan Haidt [VIDEO]
Morality | March 04, 2013

What We're Disgusted By Shapes Our Morality: Jonathan Haidt [VIDEO]

"Morality isn't just about stealing and killing," morality speaker Jonathan Haidt tells the audience in a new talk. "Honesty, it's often about menstruation, and food, and who you are having sex with, and how you handle corpses." Haidt, a social psychologist and author of the bestseller The Righteous Mind, explained that what we are disgusted by is a guiding force of our morality. While we evolved to feel disgusted by things that make us sick when consumed, that feeling of disgust has expanded to help us construct our moral beliefs. "There's clearly a link between your disgust sensitivity and your moral judgment on culture war issues," says Haidt, and different people believe different things depending on where they fall on that sensitivity scale.

People who are more easily disgusted, for example, tend to be conservatives. Those with a low sensitivity to disgust tend to resonate more with liberal or libertarian viewpoints. Haidt encouraged the audience to keep this idea in mind when they are interacting with others. He says that there are times when you simply cannot fathom how someone believes a certain thing, but using this sensitivity scale as a marker can help you better understand where they are coming from. Whether or not you agree with their beliefs, seeing people's moral beliefs throught the prism of the disgust scale can help you understand why their views are different from yours—something that is much needed in our hyper-partisan climate.

Haidt speaks extensively about morality, politics, and how we come to believe the things that we do. In his talks, he offers insight into the way we make decisions and how our differing morals affect the way we interact in society. When you know how people arrive at their moral decisions, it allows you to reach compromises—something Haidt says, in our gridlocked political system, is more important today than ever.
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