Beyond Nasty Women & Deplorables: Bridging Political Divides by Focusing on Shared Moral Values Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Schein, Chelsea
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Liberals and conservatives are becoming increasingly divided. While liberals and conservatives hold opposing moral views, a new theory of moral psychology, the Theory of Dyadic Morality, suggests that these views are unified by a common denominator of harm. Inspired by this theoretical perspective, I examine whether appeals to overlapping moral values, such as harm, can reduce the dehumanization of political opponents and increase people’s willingness to engage in bipartisan conversation. In Studies 1-3, I test whether perceptions of moral dissimilarity predict negative attitudes toward political opponents and disinterest in engaging with others. In Study 4, I examine whether there is an asymmetry in how we ascribe reasons, including harm-based moral reasons, to agreeing and opposing political beliefs, and whether this perception of moral dissimilarity corresponds with political animosity. Finally, in Studies 5-8, I test whether manipulating perceived moral similarity decreases dehumanization and increases engagement relative to a control condition and other types of similarity. Across these studies, I find that perceptions of moral dissimilarity correspond with a greater disinterest in engaging in dialogue. Any type of similarity decreases dehumanization, and in turn increases willingness to engage, but moral similarity has a stronger effect than other types of trivial (food taste), and more profound (personality) types of similarity.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Ornstein, Peter
  • Payne, B. Keith
  • Cameron, Daryl
  • Ryan, Timothy
  • Gray, Kurt
  • Sheeran, Paschal
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018

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