Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives | Video on TED.com

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we’re left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives | Video on TED.com.

This excellent video from TED.com deals with the issue of the moral code.  Haidt identifies five sources of moral psychology:

  1. Harm and care
  2. Fairness and reciprocity
  3. Ingroup awareness, and Loyalty
  4. Authority and respect
  5. Purity and sanctity

It turns out that liberals are really interested in (1) and (2), while conservatives are deeply interested in (3), (4), and (5).  You can test yourself against these scales at this website.  Once you register, you can see how your results changes the balance between liberals and conservatives.

How do we use this in schools?  Many American schools operate on a liberal bias openly, but tend to care a great deal about authority and respect. Our students also play around with ingroup awareness a lot, as well as loyalty to “us” (students) versus “them” (teachers and administrators.  In boarding schools, we also care about purity and sanctity a lot, largely because we’re afraid of getting sued for unwanted pregnancies.

I think, though, that we can start the conversation by showing the video, and demonstrating that cultural change always plays out as a slow contest between those who are open to new experience, and those who are closed to it.  And that can be useful in itself, by showing that societies that swing too far, too fast, usually fall apart in short order.

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