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Facts and reason are not enough. If you want to understand politics, look to morals

If there’s one political idea most of us can agree on, it’s that we’re currently living through an age of immense ideological polarisation. Inspired by the hyperpartisan political climate in the US, the experimental social psychologist Peter Ditto at the University of California, Irvine set out to investigate how differing views of morality shape political judgments. Working from what’s known as ‘moral foundations theory’, which uses five categories – harm, fairness, loyalty, tradition and purity – as a framework for moral reasoning, Ditto created a survey website to learn to what extent different moral frameworks shape outlooks on political questions, and indeed the greater world. His findings were compelling, but likely unsurprising if you’ve ever had an irreconcilable political squabble at the dinner table: it’s our moral filters, not facts or rational thinking, that mould our ideological outlooks. You can read more about Ditto’s work at the University of California website.

Video by University of California

Website: Fig. 1

1 October 2019

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