Do Liberals Have Morals They Haven't Even Used Yet?


The New York Times is running a fascinating article featuring the work of University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt on human morality. One area Haidt explores is the moral differences between liberals and conservatives. He posits five different dimensions of morality. To wit:

Of the moral systems that protect individuals, one is concerned with preventing harm to the person and the other with reciprocity and fairness. Less familiar are the three systems that promote behaviors developed for strengthening the group. These are loyalty to the in-group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or sanctity…

They found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals — those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity…

Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give some weight to individual protections, they often have a better understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative attitudes, in his view.

If you want to see how your morals compare to those of liberals and conservatives, take the test at Haidt's

For the record, I scored 3.0 on harm, 3.3 on fairness, 2.4 on loyalty, 1.6 on authority, and 0.4 on purity.

Check out whole Times article here.