Live Chat with Jonathan Haidt

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Is it possible for liberals and conservatives to get past their differences and engage in meaningful conversation and compromise? Jonathan Haidt, a professor of social psychology and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, published in March 2012, answered your questions in a live chat on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Find out what other viewers wanted to know and what Haidt had to say in response by replaying the chat below.

 Jonathan Haidt(06/05/2012) 
12:40
Our live chat with Jonathan Haidt will be getting started in about 20 minutes at 1 PM ET.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 12:40 
12:40
Please enter your questions and comments in the text box below.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 12:40 
1:00
We are having technical difficulties and will be starting in about 5 minutes.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:00 
1:08
Bear with us. We should be starting by 1:10 PM.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:08 
1:12
Hello everyone.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:12 
1:12
Sorry for the delay.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:12 
1:12
Questions please!
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:12 
1:12
Welcome to our live chat with Jonathan Haidt!
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:12 
1:13
Let's get started.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:13 
1:13
[Comment From Michael Michael : ] 
Conservatives: Why do they think what they think?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:13 Michael
1:13
Glad to be here.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:13 
1:13
Short answer: Read the book :)
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:13 
1:14
Longer answer: Everyone lives with in a coherent moral matrix.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:14 
1:14
Conservatives value proportionality more than equality.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:14 
1:14
[Comment From Jinnifer Jinnifer : ] 
Is there a basic difference in assumptions about humanity? Who thinks 'humans are generally GOOD' and who thinks "humans are generally BAD'?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:14 Jinnifer
1:14
Yes, big difference.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:14 
1:15
Libs tend to think human nature is good -- just free it.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:15 
1:15
See John Lennon's "Imagine."
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:15 
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Cons think people will go bad without structure and constraint.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:15 
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They value order and discipline.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:15 
1:16
[Comment From Barry Barry : ] 
Why do the conservative Christian voters seem to be so unChristian? They seem to be unwilling to display the characteristics of being a Christian - forgiving, non-judgemental, and willing to help the less fortunate.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:16 Barry
1:16
It's true they seem to downplay the compassionate Jesus...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:16 
1:16
They are drawing on the bible selectively...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:16 
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We all draw on moral resources to back up whatever our main concerns are.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:17 
1:17
[Comment From Lily Lily : ] 
Can one person ever convince another person to change his world view? Or is it as my mother always says, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:17 Lily
1:18
One person has limited power over another, yet people do change....
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:18 
1:18
If one person gives logical arguments to another, that will have little effect...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:18 
1:18
But joining a new group or having a powerful emotional experience can change people profoundly.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:18 
1:19
[Comment From Joanne Joanne : ] 
But then why do so many cons value a free market vs. regulation?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:19 Joanne
1:20
First we must distinguish between social cons (e.g. religious right)...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:20 
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And laissez-faire (e.g. free marketeers)...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:20 
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They have been allies for decades, but they don't hold the same values...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:20 
1:20
They are united in their hatred for the liberal welfare state.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:20 
1:21
[Comment From Polly Polly : ] 
How do you explain the hypocricy on both sides? Liberals say they are open minded but closed to people who don't agree with them. Conservatives who judge people on the very things they do behind closed doors.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:21 Polly
1:21
Our evolutionary design is for hypocrisy...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:21 
1:22
Some psychological systems control our behavior; other psychological systems control what we say, for PR purposes.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:22 
1:22
Libs are more open to new experiences, but not more open to criticism of their sacred values.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:22 
1:23
[Comment From Guest Guest : ] 
If conservative Americans tend to place great value on patriotism and loyalty to our country, why do they seem to distrust and dislike their own government so much that was democratically elected by the people? Isn’t it their government too?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:23 Guest
1:23
New research shows we evaluate groups in part by whether we think they are liberal or conservative...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:23 
1:23
A small part of anti-black racism is that people think blacks are liberal...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:23 
1:24
A big part of anti-government hostility is that people see the government as liberal.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:24 
1:24
[Comment From Brenda Miranda Brenda Miranda : ] 
Why are emotions so high -- you say cons "hate" liberals.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:24 Brenda Miranda
1:24
As tribal conflicts heat up, emotions always rise...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:24 
1:25
The rise is due in part to generational shifts; baby-boomers use more confrontational methods...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:25 
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And the media since the 90's is ever more about emotions.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:25 
1:25
[Comment From Tyler Tyler : ] 
Does the Millennial generation have a different moral perspective than that of the Baby Boomer generation? Do you foresee a dramatic shift in the way the system functions as Millennials begin to take on bigger political roles?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:25 Tyler
1:25
YES, definitely! (But I'm not exactly sure how yet).
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:25 
1:26
Less moralistic -- perhaps too afraid to make moral judgements -- but likely to be less moralistic and tribal than baby-boomers.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:26 
1:26
I am hopeful.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:26 
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[Comment From Michael Peterson Michael Peterson : ] 
Conservatives just experience a simpler world.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:26 Michael Peterson
1:27
Research shows highest complexity of thought is just left of center...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:27 
1:27
Conservatives tend to see more black and white, but so does the far left.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:27 
1:27
[Comment From Randy Randy : ] 
If one person indeed has limited power over another to influence their worldview, then why do you think political ads/robo calls etc - the echo chamber if you will of a particular worldview - actually work to influence votes in an election?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:27 Randy
1:28
We want very much to fit in to our culture. We are sensitive to signs of common views...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:28 
1:28
We are not influenced by one lawn sign on our street, but are very influenced by twelve.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:28 
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Also, robo-calls try to instill fear; that's different.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:29 
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[Comment From Maggie Maggie : ] 
Would you put Obama's thought as just left of center, i.e. highly complex?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:29 Maggie
1:30
After reading "Dreams From My Father", I would put Obama as high on complexity as the scale goes; he is a very subtle thinker. This is sometimes an obstacle to decisive leadership.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:30 
1:30
But I am glad to see him thinking through complex issues like Afghanistan.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:30 
1:30
[Comment From Myron Chapman Myron Chapman : ] 
How can we get persons with different views to talk with us to find more mutual understanding of the other's point of view?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:30 Myron Chapman
1:31
Good question. It is difficult and often unpleasant to engage strangers on political disagreements. Best is to find or create relationships in other ways, and then gently explore political differences.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:31 
1:32
See, for example, Livingroomconversations.org
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:32 
1:32
[Comment From Celia Celia : ] 
Don't we all have to be willing to listen compassionately and really hear the views of others with a willingness to change a bit ourselves before we can expect a change of values from others?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:32 Celia
1:32
That would seem to be the fair thing...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:32 
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But we are mostly trying hard to change others without this open-minded attitude
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:33 
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This is why I recommend indirect methods, not direct conversation with strangers.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:33 
1:34
Having friends in common may be more powerful than being fair.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:34 
1:34
[Comment From Rebecca Rebecca : ] 
Help me understand the conservative view of Conservation of our planet and resources. It seems dominated by money instead of care and stewardship of nature and physical resources.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:34 Rebecca
1:34
This is one where it is laissez-faire conservatives who lead the charge.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:34 
1:35
They stand for industry, and see environmentalism as a threat.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:35 
1:35
I see hopeful signs in young evangelicals, who do recognize that God gave us stewardship over the earth and the animals.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:35 
1:36
[Comment From Michael Peterson Michael Peterson : ] 
How come there are no Rural Liberals?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:36 Michael Peterson
1:36
Farmers used to be democrats...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:36 
1:36
But the New Left of the 1960's focused on African-Americans and women...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:36 
1:37
It alienated many traditional democratic constituencies, who became the Reagan Democrats.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:37 
1:37
[Comment From Grace Grace : ] 
Do people become more conservative as their fortunes change and they are more financially secure? Does the leopard change his spots?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:37 Grace
1:38
Yes. As people get richer, they are more sympathetic to laissez-faire conservative ideas, including lower taxes.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:38 
1:38
Right now, rich people are going for Romney; poor people for Obama.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:38 
1:38
[Comment From chris chris : ] 
If the problem of the Left is that our views are not "sacred" enough to gain traction with the majority of Americans, how does a party/or candidate do that? Must we become as dogmatic as the Conservatives?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:38 chris
1:39
Good question. I don't think sacralizing is the same as dogmatism...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:39 
1:39
But showing more reverence for founding fathers' early American ideals would be helpful.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:39 
1:40
Democrats should not concede the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and capitalism all to Republicans.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:40 
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[Comment From Joel Joel : ] 
If you had unilateral power to amend the constitution, what changes would you make that might create a legislative system that is built with an understanding of the effects of moral psychology? How might such a system incentivize group reasoning among our politicians, in order to compensate for their own individual biases and sacred ideas?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:41 Joel
1:41
I'd amend the Constitution to restrict personhood to people and fight the power of money to corrupt policy...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:41 
1:42
And, without changing the Constitution, I would change Congressional policies so that less is at stake when a party goes into minority status...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:42 
1:42
right now, they fight tooth-and-nail because it is terrible to be in the minority.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:42 
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[Comment From Polly Polly : ] 
As the Internet functions to maintain and confirm our biases, won't it make reconciliation more challenging? In your opinion what is the key to reconciliation for the future? Many people have no interest in it.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:43 Polly
1:43
These are very pressing concerns...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:43 
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We don't yet know how the internet is shaping the next generation. Yes, it is confirmation-bias on steroids, but it may also broaden young peoples' sense of identity, belonging, and relatedness -- even beyond national borders.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:44 
1:44
[Comment From Proc_Hoffstein Proc_Hoffstein : ] 
You said Conservatives have a more accurate view of human nature, but isn't human nature constantly evolving? Over time, might it change to fit different points of view?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:44 Proc_Hoffstein
1:45
Good question. Human nature does not change within one thousand years, but our social structures can change in a generation...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:45 
1:45
John Lennon's "Imagine" is not based on a correct view of human nature...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:45 
1:45
See Thomas Sowell: "A Conflict of Visions."
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:45 
1:46
I think Sowell is correct on the "constrained view" of human nature.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:46 
1:46
We need order, structure, groups, and accountability to behave well.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:46 
1:46
[Comment From Isabel Penraeth Isabel Penraeth : ] 
Are liberals actually less "groupish" than conservatives?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:46 Isabel Penraeth
1:47
Yes. They are more individualistic, less prone to join fraternities, and the corporate world...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:47 
1:47
They have a sense of communalism, and want the nation to take care of people.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:47 
1:48
But here is an item from yourmorals.org:
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:48 
1:48
It is more important to express yourself than to be a team player.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:48 
1:48
Liberals agree with that more than conservatives do.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:48 
1:49
[Comment From Chris Chris : ] 
Could you share your thoughts on the suggestion that wanting justice and equality for all, giving everyone an equal chance to succeed, is "class warfare"?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:49 Chris
1:49
Those are the most basic American values; it is nonsense to call that class warfare...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:49 
1:49
Unless equality for all means equality of outcome.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:49 
1:50
My favorite slogan for the Democrats: "Equal opportunity for all; special privileges for none." (Andrew Jackson, 1820)
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:50 
1:50
[Comment From Rob Rob : ] 
Are we also fighting a diminishing understandaning of what constitutes a fact, and if so, why is this?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:50 Rob
1:51
Conservatives show declining trust in scientists in part because scientists are getting steadily more liberal...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:51 
1:51
And also because of well-financed, orchestrated campaigns by industries such as tobacco and coal.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:51 
1:51
One more question...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:51 
1:52
[Comment From Dana Dana : ] 
There seems to be so much backbiting and refusal to compromise on The Hill. Can you suggest a way to find "better" candidates this election cycle? It seems that we're stuck with the status quo...only those who want to play the same old game are runnng. How can we ever hope to change the demonizing if we keep replacing with the same thing?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:52 Dana
1:52
The problem has two parts...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:52 
1:52
The first is who we select, so yes, ending partisan primaries would help. Let's see what happens in California...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:52 
1:53
The bigger problem is what happens when Congressman get to Washington; I think nearly all of them are good people, but they are forced into a fight to the death.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:53 
1:53
See: civilpolitics.org
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:53 
1:54
And see the forthcoming book: "The Parties Versus the People" by Mickey Edwards. He has great ideas.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:54 
1:54

I'm afraid we're going to have to leave it there.

Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:54 
1:54
Thank you so much for joining us today!
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:54 
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Thanks all for your questions...
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:55 
1:55
Try to seek out friends of friends with different views for gentle conversation.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:55 
1:55
Jonathan Haidt is the author of the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, which was published in March.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 1:55 
2:00
And remember, you can find out more about where you fall on the moral psychology spectrum by taking one of Haidt's quizzes: What Do Your Morals Say About Your Politics?
Tuesday June 5, 2012 2:00 
2:00
Thanks again to all of you for joining our chat.
Tuesday June 5, 2012 2:00 
2:00
Have a great day!
Tuesday June 5, 2012 2:00 
 
 

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