Social Psychology biased against conservatives?

Maria Konnikova, writing in The New Yorker, October 30, 2014:

On January 27, 2011, from a stage in the middle of the San Antonio Convention Center, Jonathan Haidt addressed the participants of the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The topic was an ambitious one: a vision for social psychology in the year 2020. Haidt began by reviewing the field that he is best known for, moral psychology. Then he threw a curveball. He would, he told the gathering of about a thousand social-psychology professors, students, and post-docs, like some audience participation. By a show of hands, how would those present describe their political orientation? First came the liberals: a “sea of hands,” comprising about eighty per cent of the room, Haidt later recalled. Next, the centrists or moderates. Twenty hands. Next, the libertarians. Twelve hands. And last, the conservatives. Three hands.

Social psychology, Haidt went on, had an obvious problem: a lack of political diversity that was every bit as dangerous as a lack of, say, racial or religious or gender diversity. It discouraged conservative students from joining the field, and it discouraged conservative members from pursuing certain lines of argument. It also introduced bias into research questions, methodology, and, ultimately, publications. The topics that social psychologists chose to study and how they chose to study them, he argued, suffered from homogeneity. The effect was limited, Haidt was quick to point out, to areas that concerned political ideology and politicized notions, like race, gender, stereotyping, and power and inequality. “It’s not like the whole field is undercut, but when it comes to research on controversial topics, the effect is most pronounced,” he later told me. (Haidt has now put his remarks in more formal terms, complete with data, in a paper forthcoming this winter in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.)

Others have also voiced concern over the liberal slant in the field of social psychology. Konnikova links to these articles: Sociopolitical Diversity in Psychology: The Case For Pluralism; and also, Political or Politicized Psychology: Is the Road to Scientific Hell Paved With Good Moral Intentions?

Answer to the question posed in the title to the second article linked above is “NO!” because Liberalism is never about “good moral intentions” when it is practiced by intelligent people who should know better and probably do.  That they have even asked the question is progress, though.

Elsewhere in Konnikova’s article she describes the responses of liberal social psychologists when asked why they think there aren’t more conservatives in the field of psychology. A typical answer is “They aren’t smart enough.”  This is revealing of the liberal mind that describes the rest of humanity as “the masses,” and thinks “the masses” are stupid.  Multiple polls and surveys outside of academia show that when asked nearly twice as many people describe themselves as conservative as those who claim to be liberal.  Those who call themselves conservatives are in the majority of every poll. Do people go into psychology out of some need to give themselves an elevated sense of superiority?

A book on the sort of nonsense that psychology professionals have been producing since the 1960s is The Road to Malpsychia: Humanistic Psychology and Our Discontents by Joyce Milton.

You can read the rest of Konnikova’s article in the 10/30/2014 edition of The New Yorker. It’s available online.

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