Psychology and the Left
An Awakening

Illuminant by
Sarah Emily Jordan
February 2011

So, in my daily conservative website visits I opened a link to a New York Times article which had me shaking my head and laughing and saying "duh". Of course I will give some credit for an awakening by the left to the reality of how skewed the field of Psychology is. The article is titled "Social Scientist Sees Bias Within", by John Tierney.

From the article:

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology's conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked about speech at this year's meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new "outgroup."

It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

That's when I started laughing. I was totally unsurprised by this revelation, but it's a little absurd in reality. Three, three conservatives in a room of 1000 psychologists. I have to say that calling the conservatives a "new outgroup" was a little much for me. There is nothing new about the fact that conservatives are far outnumbered in the field of psychology. It's just the fact that the truth is getting out about it that's new.

Dr. Haidt made some poignant observations, continuing from the article:

"This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity," Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a "tribal-moral community" united by "sacred values" that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they've created for non-liberals.

"Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation," said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. "But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations."

And here is where I started saying, "Well, duh." Reality check: there is no way that the field of psychology is adequately representing or addressing the greater needs of the population. They absolutely do discriminate and are especially biased against conservative ideology.

I recommend reading the whole article; it makes some good points about the effects of bias and also taboo topics. But I need to share the bit that had me shaking my head:

For a tribal-moral community, the social psychologists in Dr. Haidt's audience seemed refreshingly receptive to his argument. Some said he overstated how liberal the field is, but many agreed it should welcome more ideological diversity. A few even endorsed his call for a new affirmative-action goal: a membership that's 10 percent conservative by 2020. The society's executive committee didn't endorse Dr. Haidt's numerical goal, but it did vote to put a statement on the group's home page welcoming psychologists with "diverse perspectives."

Well, I hate to put a damper on their proposed solution, but conservatives are definitely not going to go for an affirmative-action goal. With this suggestion they are proving they don't understand conservatives at all. Conservatives are not about equality of numbers. I for one would rather be seen as a human being with a valuable viewpoint, rather than a number to fill their conservative quota.

Dr. Haidt suggested that his fellow psychologists subscribe to National Review and read Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions. In the end educating is going to be the only way to solve the problem. Pat on the back to Dr. Haidt for waking up some psychologists. I hope they do crack open a conservative book: the numbers of conservatives might increase, once some psychologists realize that it's actually just common sense. Oh, and they might even realize that liberalism doesn't work, like ever.  :)


© 2011 Sarah Emily Jordan

First appeared at
Sarah Emily Jordan's blog
The Conservative Independent Rant

S. E. Jordan's
Psychology / Psychiatry and the Left
  1. Progressivism & Eugenics
  2. Drugs, Experts, & the Medical Model
  3. A Personal Perspective

S. E. Jordan's review of
A Conflict of Visions
Ideological Origins of Political Struggles
by Thomas Sowell

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