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Haidt's Moral Foundation Theory

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9/9/2015 1:53:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Haidt, a social psychologist, theorized that there are six moral paradigms which, through both societal and selective pressure, humans have been wired to see the world, and that political differences are manifestations of different prioritizations of these paradigms.

Associated Emotion: Compassion
Origin: The drive to nurture and protect the vulnerable, particularly children.
Trigger: Suffering of the vulnerable in society.
Sensitivity: Common

Associated Emotions: Resentment and hatred
Origin: To prevent the domination of the group by those who are not authorized by the group to do so.
Trigger: Unsanctioned attempts at control.
Sensitivity: Common, but scales reversely with the Authority/Subversion paradigm.

Associated Emotions: Anger, gratitude, and guilt.
Origin: To protect ingroup altruism from the free rider problem.
Trigger: Receiving collective benefits which one does not deserve (anger from society, guilt from perpetrator) and contributing more to society than one takes (gratitude).
Sensitivity: More common among conservatives, but still fairly ubiquitous.

Associated Emotions: Pride and hatred.
Origin: To form cohesive social bonds and compete on a collective basis.
Trigger: Loyalty and sacrifice (pride) and betrayal (hatred)
Sensitivity: More common among conservatives.

Associated Emotions: Fear and respect.
Origin: To establish hierarchies and social order, thus increasing efficiency.
Trigger: Subversion and rebellion against legitimate authorities (fear), superior authority or deference to a superior authority (respect).
Sensitivity: More common among conservatives.

Associated Emotions: Disgust and revulsion.
Origin: To avoid rotten food and parasites (this foundation has been expanded to encompass everything from religious symbols to flags and even tax increases)
Trigger: The degradation of that which has been deemed sacred.
Sensitivity: More common among conservatives.

Haidt theorized that the vast majority of people vote not according to their financial interests, but according to their morality, and that the rather steep divide in the US between conservatives and liberals at the moment explains the huge swathes of impoverished people who vote for Republicans, despite it being explicitly against their self interest: they share moral values with the Republicans which the Democrats have all abandoned.

Thoughts on this theory? Which foundations are most important to you?
"See now Oblivion shimmering all around us, its very tranquility deadlier than tempest. How little all our keels have troubled it."
- Lord Dunsany -

"The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? "
- W. B. Yeats -

Virtutem videant intabescantque relicta