Psychoanalyzing Conservatism

Posted on Posted in moral psychology, Politics

Although I’m highly skeptical of any claims made by moral psychologists in regards to their hopes that moral psychology can replace what philosophers do I do find moral psychology very interesting. I did study psychology as an undergrad.

One of the psychological questions that has always interested me was why poor white people are against social policies that would benefit them and why they blame the poor for poor economic conditions.

I’ve found this question extremely puzzling. However, recently I’ve been wondering if the answer isn’t a really really simple case of in-group out-group preference. It seems absurd but it does make a certain amount of sense.

According to moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt there are six elements of moral: care, liberty, and fairness, sanctity, loyalty, and authority. Liberals only value three of these, care, liberty, and fairness, whereas conservatives tend to value all six.

So, maybe it is as simple as conservatives value loyalty, essentially a preference for one’s own kind whether country or race and also known as in-group preference. Valuing authority might also play a significant role. Not quite sure, maybe I’ll have to email Dr. Haidt to see if he has done any research on this specifically.

However the loyalty/in-group preference makes a lot of sense based on the blatant racism that many conservatives display.

So, loyalty as a personality trait makes it easier for a poor white person to blame other poor black people than the rich white people who control the money and socio-political structure of the economy?

Maybe. It makes more sense than anything else I’ve come up with and it fits the anecdotal evidence.

 

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