Freddie Sayers meets American social psychologist and NYU professor Jonathan Haidt to discuss how the Right and Left positions have evolved over the past few years. (1) Harm/care, (2) Fairness/reciprocity, (3) In-group/loyalty, (4) Authority/respect, (5) Purity/sanctity. Those are the five moral ‘foundations’ on which, according to moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, liberals and conservatives divide.
In his bestseller 2012 book ‘The Righteous Mind’, the NYU professor made the argument that liberals tend to value the first two foundations over the others, harm and fairness, while conservatives value the others just as much. But have the past few years, particularly the last 12 months, changed everything? After Trump, Brexit and now a pandemic, global protests and a contested US election we were curious to find out from Jonathan how — or if — the characteristics of Left and Right have changed. Is the new Left not rather more interested in Authority and in-group loyalty than they used to be? And is the prevalence of cancel culture and online censorship now a hallmark of liberal purity? How do these divides map across different generations? We put these questions to Professor Haidt, and his answers were both unsettling and enlightening. Thanks to him for taking the time to talk to us.