Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

From The Guardian:

GetImageAs you are reading this newspaper and not another, there is a good chance you may have wondered why some people you know, whose moral compasses seem otherwise to be functioning well, nevertheless vote for the Conservatives or their equivalent whenever offered the chance. This is the question Jonathan Haidt has set out to answer – and his conclusions may make unsettling reading for those of a liberal (American sense) persuasion.

Professor Haidt's premise is, as far as I can see, fairly easy to summarise: the reason republicans and conservatives persist in winning elections (if you discount Obama's last two victories, which I must say rather gum up the works of his argument) is because they appeal to a greater range of moral impulses than do more leftwing parties. Haidt claims that just as we have the taste receptors of salt, sweet, bitter, and so on, so we generally work on five basic moral receptors: those pertaining to caring, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity. (These terms vary: “purity” replaces “sanctity” on a website co-founded by Haidt, yourmorals.org, which, after a simple test, allows you to see how you scored in comparison with liberals or conservatives. It turns out that I am not as caring as I thought I was. Have a go – it's the foundation for the research that has gone into this book.) Liberals are very big on caring and fairness, but tend not to mind so much about “sanctity”. Conservatives, however, care about all these things. The more rightwing they are, the less bothered they are about fairness, and the more bothered they are about “sanctity”. So for liberals to appeal more to everyone, and to win more elections, what they should do is press the buttons pertaining to good order and individual responsibility towards the herd harder than they do.

More here.