Despite the protestations of some readers, I still think of myself as a conservative. So I took the interesting YourMorals test, invented by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and covered in the NYT yesterday. His theory is that our evolution gives us instincts toward both camps - but that the conservative instincts are deeper, older and more inchoate. Money quote:
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.
That's a high score on the liberal counts - of harm to others and fairness - higher than my conservative scores on loyalty, authority and purity. But it turns out I'm also more conservative than most of those "conservatives" who took the test. The combined scores are below:
I imagine many conservatives haven't taken the test - they number only a fifth of the liberals - so maybe the study is skewed a little toward the libs. But if you wonder why I haven't formally left the Church or gave Bush the benefit of the doubt for a long time or revere the military, check out my authority score. Of course, my purity level is lower than most conservatives. But I bet it's in the same range as most libertarians. And where do they fit on this paradigm anyway?
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