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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why Liberals Aren’t as Tolerant as They Think

Why Liberals Aren’t as Tolerant as They Think

"After the election, Sean McElwee, a policy analyst at the progressive group Demos Action, reported that Donald Trump had received his strongest support among Americans who felt that whites and Christians faced “a great deal” of discrimination. Spencer Greenberg, a mathematician who runs a website for improving decision-making, found that the biggest predictor of voting for Trump after party affiliation was the rejection of political correctness—Trump’s voters felt silenced...

Conservatives, liberals, the religious and the nonreligious are each prejudiced against those with opposing views. But surprisingly, each group is about equally prejudiced. While liberals might like to think of themselves as more open-minded, they are no more tolerant of people unlike them than their conservative counterparts are...

When Mark Brandt, an American-trained psychologist now at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, first entered graduate school, he wondered why members of groups that espouse tolerance are so often intolerant. “I realized that there was a potential contradiction in the literature,” he told me. “On the one hand, liberals have a variety of personality traits and moral values that should protect them from expressing prejudice. On the other hand, people tend to express prejudice against people who do not share their values.” So, if you value open-mindedness, as liberals claim to do, and you see another group as prejudiced, might their perceived prejudice actually increase your prejudice against them?...

Not only are conservatives unfairly maligned as more prejudiced than liberals, but religious fundamentalists are to some degree unfairly maligned as more prejudiced than atheists, according to a paper Brandt and Daryl Van Tongeren published in January in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. To be sure, they found that people high in religious fundamentalism were more cold and dehumanizing toward people low in perceived fundamentalism (atheists, gay men and lesbians, liberals and feminists) than people low in fundamentalism were toward those high in perceived fundamentalism (Catholics, the Tea Party, conservatives and Christians). But this prejudice gap existed only if the strength of the perceiver’s religious belief was also very high. Otherwise, each end of the fundamentalist spectrum looked equally askance at each other. And while liberals and the nonreligious sometimes defend themselves as being intolerant of intolerance, they can’t claim this line as their own. In the study, bias on both ends was largely driven by seeing the opposing groups as limiting one’s personal freedom.

Other researchers have come forward with similar findings...

If liberalism and secularism don’t mute prejudice, you can guess what Brandt found about intelligence. In a study published last year in Social Psychological and Personality Science, he confirmed earlier findings linking low intelligence to prejudice, but showed it was only against particular groups. Low cognitive ability (as measured by a vocabulary test) correlated with bias against Hispanics, Asian Americans, atheists, gay men and lesbians, blacks, Muslims, illegal immigrants, liberals, whites, people on welfare and feminists. High cognitive ability correlated with bias against Christian fundamentalists, big business, Christians (in general), the Tea Party, the military, conservatives, Catholics, working-class people, rich people and middle-class people. But raw brainpower itself doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor in who we hate: When Brandt controlled for participants’ demographics and traditionalism (smart people were more supportive of “newer lifestyles” and less supportive of “traditional family ties”), intelligence didn’t correlate with overall levels of prejudice...

Conservative political views were correlated with coldness toward liberals, gays and lesbians, transgender people, feminists, atheists, people on welfare, illegal immigrants, blacks, scientists, Hispanics, labor unions, Buddhists, Muslims, hippies, hipsters, Democrats, goths, immigrants, lower-class people and nerds. Liberal political views, on the other hand, were correlated with coldness toward conservatives, Christian fundamentalists, rich people, the Tea Party, big business, Christians, Mormons, the military, Catholics, the police, men, whites, Republicans, religious people, Christians and upper-class people.

Brandt found that knowing only a target group’s perceived political orientation (are goths seen as liberal or conservative?), you can predict fairly accurately whether liberals or conservatives will express more prejudice toward them, and how much. Social status (is the group respected by society?) and choice of group membership (were they born that way?) mattered little. It appears that conflicting political values really are what drive liberal and conservative prejudice toward these groups. Feminists and fundamentalists differ in many ways, but, as far as political prejudice is concerned, only one way really matters.

In another recent paper, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Crawford, Brandt and colleagues also found that people were especially biased against those who held opposing social, versus economic, political ideologies—perhaps because cultural issues seem more visceral than those that involve spreadsheets.

None of this, of course, explains why liberals’ open-mindedness doesn’t better protect them against prejudice. One theory is that the effects of liberals’ unique traits and worldviews on prejudice are swamped by a simple fact of humanity: We like people similar to us. There’s a long line of research showing that we prefer members of our own group, even if the group is defined merely by randomly assigned shirt color...

Although openness to new experiences correlated with lower prejudice against a wide collection of 16 social groups, it actually increased prejudice against the most closed-minded groups in the bunch. Open-minded people felt colder than closed-minded people toward “conventional” groups such as evangelical Christians, Republicans and supporters of the traditional family. And, unsurprisingly, closed-minded people were more biased than open-minded people against “unconventional” groups such as atheists, Democrats, poor people, and gays and lesbians. Research consistently shows that liberals are more open than conservatives, but in many cases what matters is: Open to what?...

Education’s suppression of expressed prejudice suggests a culture of political correctness in which people don’t feel comfortable sharing their true feelings for fear of reprisal—just the kind of intolerance conservatives complain about...

“Nowadays, as the right sees it, the left has won the culture war and controls the media, the universities, Hollywood and the education of everyone’s children,” says Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at New York University who studies politics and morality. “Many of them think that they are the victims, they are fighting back against powerful and oppressive forces, and their animosities are related to that worldview”...

Regardless of who has the more toxic intolerance, the fact remains that people have trouble getting along. What to do? “One of the most consistent ways to increase tolerance is contact with the other side and sharing the experience of working toward a goal,” Brandt says. He suggests starting with the person next door. “Everyone benefits from safe neighborhoods, a stimulating cultural environment and reliable snow removal,” he says. “If liberal and conservative neighbors can find ways to work together on the local level to improve their neighborhoods and communities, it might help to increase tolerance in other domains.” (If you can find a neighbor of the opposite party, that is.)"


This is good empirical evidence to throw at people who claim that racial resentment (i.e. racism) was the most important reason why Trump won (ignoring the fact that he got non-negligible minority support) and deny that political correctness was a factor.

Isn't proclaiming that you're tolerant and yet being intolerant being hypocritical, thus making your intolerance even worse? Hypocrisy thus adds on to the charges against liberals.

This is some evidence for feminists hating men and "anti-racists" hating white people (yet, conservatives aren't prejudiced against women - just feminists).

This makes for an interesting intersection with the Popper misquote that liberals like to trot out for justifying being intolerant of "intolerant" people.

This shows why post-Marxist identity politics is more powerful than Marxist class politics.

And this is why blocking people is a bad idea.
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