Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Laid Bare

{digital art by me using Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 and a Dover clip art image}
Recently, I've stumbled into a series of eye-openers that have left me feeling as if I've been laid bare for all the world to see...if the world knew how to see it. Luckily, most of the world is blind to these matters.

It began innocently enough. I can't remember exactly now what led me there, but I began reading online about a new book called A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink. I read an article about it, an interview with its author and I even read a little of the book itself thanks to Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Pink's book, in a nutshell, is supposed to be one of the so-called Library of the Age of Obama -- books which explain what's going on and why and how everything's changing. And it intrigues me so greatly that I bought it and am waiting for it to arrive later this week. I'm intrigued because this left brain / right brain thing appears to be a pendulum swinging back and forth, guiding our technoconomy. I was born in a right brain age, saw it shift to a left brain age about the time I reached adulthood. And if Pink is right, I'll see it swing back to right brain soon.

From what I've read so far, my hunch is that he may have it about right, because when you consider the other attributes he describes that are needed for this to happen, you can see them already influencing the changes we've been experiencing, if you are paying attention. I'll report more on this as I read it.

My journey doesn't stop there, though. A local reporter's newspaper's column linked this NYT column that asserts that our moral foundations explain our political leanings. With a title like "Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You May Be a Liberal", I had to read the column, which led me to the Moral Foundations Questionnaire.

Here is the graph of the results of my questionnaire answers:

According to the website, the questionnaire "...measures your reliance on and endorsement of five psychological foundations of morality that seem to be found across cultures. Each of the two parts of the scale contained four questions related to each foundation: 1) harm/care, 2) fairness/reciprocity (including issues of rights), 3) ingroup/loyalty, 4) authority/respect, and 5) purity/sanctity. The idea behind the scale is that human morality is the result of biological and cultural evolutionary processes that made human beings very sensitive to many different (and often competing) issues. Some of these issues are about treating other individuals well (the first two foundations - harm and fairness). Other issues are about how to be a good member of a group or supporter of social order and tradition (the last three foundations). Haidt and Graham have found that political liberals generally place a higher value on the first two foundations; they are very concerned about issues of harm and fairness (including issues of inequality and exploitation). Political conservatives care about harm and fairness too, but they generally score slightly lower on those scale items. The big difference between liberals and conservatives seems to be that conservatives score slightly higher on the ingroup/loyalty foundation, and much higher on the authority/respect and purity/sanctity foundations."

I was generally not surprised at my results, as a whole. I have always said that I am a Moderate, meaning between Liberal and Conservative. You can see that in 2 of the 5 foundations my results (in green) came out in between the 2 extremes of Liberal (blue) and Conservative (red). Those foundations were Fairness/Reciprocity and Ingroup/Loyalty. On Authority/Respect, I am fully Conservative, which is a little strange and probably over-stated since I support legalization of pot and I think our Drug War has failed miserably. And on the Harm/Fairness foundation, I'm even more to the right than Conservative, which I also question, since I am a fairness freak at heart. So, given that the last two foundations are a tad off, that would make the results be Moderate all the way.

I should stress that the way the questionnaire is designed, its quite tempting to answer in the most compassionate manner, as that puts one in the most charitable light. But if these are answered completely truthfully, it really can show you where you are on these matters.

But you will feel a slight draft. Feeling naked does that to a person...winkwink

1 comment:

Elizabeth Golden said...

Aimeslee - first time visitor to this blog. I love this. I really enjoyed my morning Coca Cola reading through your blog. I will be back...