More similar than they think: Liberals and conservatives exaggerate perceived moral views

Dec 12, 2012

Moral stereotypes about "typical" liberals and conservatives held by both groups are generally correct, but exaggerated both for their own group and the other, according to new research published December 12 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jesse Graham at the University of Southern California and his colleagues at the University of Virginia and New York University.

The researchers asked 2,212 U.S participants to answer questions about moral beliefs either with their own views, or with their idea of a typical liberal or conservative person's answers. They found that liberals endorsed individualistic moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives, and conservatives endorsed group-focused concerns such as loyalty and respect for authority. Across the political spectrum, participants' responses correctly reflected the moral endorsements of "typical" liberals and conservatives, but increased the extremity of the views. The authors found that these perceived stereotypes exaggerated the moral ideologies of both the respondent's own group as well as that of the other group, and that liberals were least accurate about the views held by both groups.

Graham explains, "Rather than finding that liberals think conservatives are immoral, and conservatives think the same about liberals, we found that all three groups shared exaggerated moral stereotypes about partisans on either side. These moral were basically that liberals don't care at all about loyalty, authority, and sanctity, and that conservatives don't care at all about compassion, fairness, and equality. The findings suggest that liberals and conservatives, while differing systematically in their moral worldviews, are actually more similar in their than anyone thinks."

Explore further: Researchers urge early help for kindergarten students with low self-regulation

More information: Graham J, Nosek BA, Haidt J (2012) The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum. PLoS ONE 7(12): e50092. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050092

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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.

Political views are reflected in brain structure

Apr 07, 2011

We all know that people at opposite ends of the political spectrum often really can't see eye to eye. Now, a new report published online on April 7th in Current Biology reveals that those differences in political orientation are ti ...

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

Oct 23, 2014

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

Oct 23, 2014

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

Oct 23, 2014

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

User comments : 0