Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Hat tip to CaryGEE.
Why do People in the USA Vote for the Republican Party : The Role of Morality and Emotion versus the Exercise of Reason in explaining Voting Behavior
What particularly interests Haidt is the following question:
"Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies?"
Haidt argues - in summary of his observations - that morals and values are the deciding factor:
"People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world."
Read the whole article, and/or take the Morality Quiz here. There are several quizzes available there, but the first to take is the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Here is our own result:
"In the graph below, your scores on each foundation are shown in green. The scores of all liberals who have taken it on our site are shown in blue, and the scores of all conservatives are shown in red. Scores run from 0 (the lowest possible score, you completely reject that foundation) to 5 (the highest possible score, you very strongly endorse that foundation and build much of your morality on top of it)."
We were initially rather surprised at these results, since we expected to land somewhere in the middle. What is interesting is that except on the issue of accepting authority - where we are always skeptical, we rank ourselves higher on these moral issues than either the liberals or the conservatives. Perhaps the reason for this is that we tend to see or attempt to see all sides of any issue with the greatest amount of fairness that we are able to muster. By definition, we regard people who are overly partisan in their views about any topic to be lacking in basic fairness and to have questionable soundness of judgment.
One of the most telling of the morality quizzes is the Need for Cognitive Closure. That our own open-mindedness is far greater than either the Liberals or Conservatives was clear to us, and this test was a definite confirmation:
"The scale is a measure of an individual's desire to seek a firm answer to any given question and to avoid uncertainty and ambiguity. People with high need for cognitive closure tend to "seize" on information that allows them to form an option about an issue and then "freeze" on that opinion, thus allowing little room for new information to affect their judgment. As with most other psychological phenomena, cognitive closure is a coin with two sides. On one hand, a strong need for cognitive closure can lead to inflexible thinking, closed-mindedness, and rejection of important new information. On the other hand, need for closure allows the human mind to "pick a course and stick with it", so that it can move to other important matters. As the creator of the concept Arie Kruglanski states: "Without it, we would be forever suspended in a limbo of non-belief, incapable of crystallizing a single judgment or undertaking a single decision." The construct of Need for Cognitive Closure does seem to capture one element of popular stereotypes about conservatives being less flexible and intellectual, whereas liberals are seen to be less decisive and more "wishy-washy."
"The graph below shows the extent to which you are high or low in need for cognitive closure. Higher numbers indicate a stronger need for cognitive closure. Your score is shown in green. The score of the average Liberal survey respondent is shown in blue and that of the average Conservative respondent is in red."
This need for closure is one of the most difficult impediments for political candidates to overcome, because the voters make up their minds at some point and once made, that closure is hard to reverse because you must first unlock a closed compartment before even thinking about changing its contents.
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