When Compromise is a Dirty Word: Haidt on our Culture of Contention

Posted on: March 7, 2012

"Our country is more politically polarized than ever. Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems?  Or are the blind leading the blind — over the cliff?"

Last month, social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt sat down with Bill Moyer to talk about the psychological underpinnings of political polarization. Haidt deftly sketches out some fundamental differences between liberal and conservative mindsets, the problem with demonizing your adversaries and why it's wise to think twice before trumpeting our opinions.

In his Ted Talk, Haidt focuses on the moral roots of these partisan worldviews, outlining the different moral values of liberal and conservative ideologies. Haidt paints morality as a double-edged sword: it both binds us together and blinds us to our biases. "By understanding more about our moral roots, his hope is that we can learn to be civil and open-minded toward those whose morals don't match ours, but who are equally good and moral people on their own terms."

Haidt's new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics & Religion, is out March 13th.