Best-selling author to discuss the psychology of hyper-partisan politics

Published: September 5th, 2012

Category: Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One of the nation’s leading experts on the psychology of politics will discuss his research during a public presentation at the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in Pugh Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” has written numerous articles explaining how moral psychology creates hyper-partisanship in American politics. Specifically, his recent work looks at how different notions of political morality could perhaps evolve and work together in bipartisan endeavors – one of the goals shared by the Bob Graham Center.

In “The Righteous Mind,” Haidt, a self-confessed liberal, argues that intuition, not reason, drives the moral foundations of political positions. Liberals value individual-protecting qualities that include the right to marry someone of the same gender, for example, while conservatives favor group-binding virtues based on a healthy respect for tradition, loyalty and authority. Libertarians, meanwhile, value very strong notions of individual freedom that tend to cut across mainstream liberal and conservative positions.

“I’m hoping to help large numbers of Americans understand what’s going on, understand themselves, and tone down the demonizing,” Haidt said. “To a liberal audience — and most of the audiences I speak to are liberal — I try to show that conservatives are not crazy. Rather, their morality is built on a different configuration of moral foundations. They are pursuing a vision of moral virtue, a common good, just like the left is.”

Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at the NYU-Stern School of Business. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1985 and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. He then did postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India. He was a professor at the University of Virginia from 1995 until 2011. He is the author of more than 80 academic articles as well as “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.”

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Shelby Taylor, 352-273-1086

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