What Were They Thinking?

Really interesting article on the psychological process behind tea partiers:

Moral psychology historically confined itself to the study of altruism and justice. When morality is defined as being nice, then the angry rantings of right-wing protesters seem to have nothing to do with morality, and psychologists have long searched for non-moral explanations of conservatism. (Frustration? Racism? Fear of change?) In contrast, the righteous anger of left-wing marchers for peace and “social justice” was sometimes held up by social scientists as the pinnacle of moral development. But the new synthesis that has recently occurred in moral psychology—merging social psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary theory—gives us a new set of tools for understanding political movements, which are always moral movements, whether left-wing, right-wing, or something else. This new moral psychology is based on three principles, each of which can help outsiders understand the tea party movement.

Go read the rest.

10 thoughts on “What Were They Thinking?

  1. Thanks a lot for posting this. I had never hear of this guy or his work because he is in psychology, not philosophy. I can use this and his other work in teaching my ethics classes. It follows on the writing of William James, John Dewey and Jane Addams. With a little bit of Thich Nhat Hahn thrown in.

  2. It’s good to see somebody say something decent about “those people.” Will the shouting stop? Probably not.

  3. My preferred explanation is shorter and devoid of any deep thinking. The main and crucial reason for the Tea Party is: Obama is BLACK. The other reason is that most of the members are right wing reactionaries that want to go back to the Spanish Inquisition.

    The read is interesting, but it’s not my field nor does it appeal to my sensitivities.

  4. My problem with the right isn’t that they don’t look for evidence that contradicts their point of view. My problem is that when you present them with factual evidence that contradicts their view point, they refuse to even consider it. When you point out to someone on the right that Bill Clinton was not, in point of fact, convicted on perjury charges, they will frequently tell you that you are wrong. That’s my beef with ’em.

  5. (Oh, wow. there’s a keyboard trick I didn’t know about…)
    Anyway. You are the Other. They can’t listen to you.
    (Let’s see if I can do that again…)

  6. What a crock ! Since when has moral psychology confined itself to altruism and justice under the terms of being nice??? Moral psychology has always included the study of the immoral also. The so called tea party people see no morality in either party. How can you blame them when they see a President that has shown no example of leadership or the ability to keep his word ?

  7. kraut: How can you blame them when they see a President that has shown no example of leadership or the ability to keep his word ?

    Compared to WHO? Bush? Cheney? All or any Republicans & Democrats?

  8. I think the point is that ‘morality’ is nothing other than post hoc rationalization of knee jerk first impressions. The interesting part to me is the general agreement of this thesis with messaging and the tools of effective communication. I’d recommend Thom Hartmann’s ‘Cracking the Code.’ I guess the difference lies in whether you want to ‘understand’ wingnut insanity or you need to communicate ideas to the mercurial ‘independent’ voter. Feeling’s and emotion first, facts later. Just the opposite of Democratic messaging.

  9. I’m deeply unimpressed.
    The substance here is pretty thin, and the author is either uninformed or disingenuous at times. (F’rinstance, saying that Obama, a notorious creature of Wall Street, wants to regulate it. Or that the belief systems of liberals and teabaggers are pretty much equivalent in validity.)

    I agree with KoshBo — the tea party is mostly about veiled racism.

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