Bad Behaviour

by rightscholarship

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article earlier this week (by Tom Bartlett) on a paper that will soon be appearing in the journal Behavioural and Brain Sciences regarding liberal bias in the discipline of social psychology. The paper, entitled “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science,” should be of interest to all conservative scholars, and I hope it will have some lasting impact.

Written by Jonathan Haidt, José Duarte and others, the paper for Behavioural and Brain Sciences grew out of a controversial 2011 talk by Haight and a short essay by Duarte that Duarte shared on a discipline-specific listserv. For those without access to the Chronicle article (which means anyone without campus access or a subscription), I will provide some relevant links.

An advance copy of the paper, “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science,” is available here (for now). If you read nothing else about this debate, I encourage you to read this article, as it surveys existing studies on the subject, provides thorough analysis, and offers some workable solutions. I am especially interested in the idea of “adversarial collaboration” between conservative and liberal scholars (see page 38).

Duarte’s short essay is available on his blog, here.

Haidt’s website contains lots of information, including a link to a video of a re-creation of his 2011 talk and links to some of the responses he received.

I have addressed the topic of left/liberal bias in the social sciences before, in my online argument from a little while back with the editor of The Sociological Imagination. Now, thanks to a small number of concerned social psychologists, we have clear empirical and anecdotal evidence of a strong liberal bias in at at least one of the social sciences. That the situation in the humanities is just as bad or worse has long been obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Update: Just after posting this I saw a tweet for a Salon article entitled “Secrets of the right-wing brain: New study proves it — conservatives see a different, hostile world.” The new study that it points to (which I have admittedly not read yet) is from (drumroll please) Behavioral and Brain Sciences. The study in question may or may not have a liberal bias, but the Salon article certainly does.