Common ground on the common good: Study finds Republicans and Democrats can agree on some moral issues

Nov 05, 2012

(Phys.org)—A new University of British Columbia study that asked U.S. conservatives and liberals to rate the most influential historical figures of the 20th Century finds that the two sides of America's "culture wars" share a surprising level of common moral ground.

While the study reaffirms some conflicts between Republicans and Democrats – founder Margaret Sanger, gay rights activist Harvey Milk and divided participants most – it also offers new advice for bridging the political gap on controversial social issues, such as abortion and reproductive rights.

According to the findings, moral disagreements between Republicans and Democrats centre on two of five psychological aspects of morality: attitudes towards authority and sexual matters. Compared to conservatives, liberals showed a stronger preference for figures who challenged authority – such as Rosa Parks, Che Guevara and Milk – and people who supported sexual freedom and women's and gay rights.

The study found the two groups' share overwhelmingly similar attitudes towards individuals known for fairness and care for humanity. The study involved 400 participants of both political stripes, who rated images of 40 of Time Magazine's former People of the Century. The study challenges previous research, and some popular notions, that suggest conservatives and liberals have differing moral foundations.

"The findings suggest that progress on divisive social issues is more likely when the discussion is framed as a question of fairness and care for humanity – that's where common moral ground exists," says Jeremy Frimer, who led the study as a postdoctoral researcher under UBC Psychology Prof. Lawrence Walker. Since conducting the study, Frimer has joined the University of Winnipeg as an assistant professor.

Explore further: Decoding ethnic labels

More information: jeremyfrimer.com/Welcome_files… press_%20JPSP%29.pdf
www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2012/… -nov-6-u-s-election/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Republicans and democrats less divided than commonly thought

Jan 28, 2012

Republicans and Democrats are less divided in their attitudes than popularly believed, according to new research. It is exactly those perceptions of polarization, however, that help drive political engagement, researchers ...

People apply principles inconsistently, study finds

Oct 08, 2010

Is it morally appropriate to sacrifice the life of an innocent person to save the lives of several others? David Pizarro, Cornell assistant professor of psychology, put a fresh spin on this classic question from philosophy.

Poll: Racial resentment tied to voter ID support

Jul 18, 2012

A new National Agenda Opinion Poll by the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication reveals support for voter identification laws is strongest among Americans who harbor negative sentiments ...

Recommended for you

Congressional rift over environment influences public

8 hours ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Decoding ethnic labels

Jul 30, 2014

If you are of Latin American descent, do you call yourself Chicano? Latino? Hispanic?

Local education politics 'far from dead'

Jul 29, 2014

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

Jul 29, 2014

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

User comments : 0