Social psychologists espouse tolerance and diversity—do they walk the walk?

Every ten years or so, someone will make the observation that there is a lack of political diversity among psychological scientists and a discussion about what ought to be done ensues. The notion that the field discriminates against and is skewed toward a liberal political perspective is worthy of concern; scholars, both within and outside the field, have offered various solutions to this diversity problem.

As psychological scientists Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers point out, however, we have few of the relevant facts necessary to understand and address the issue.

In an article to be published in the September 2012 issue of , a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Inbar and Lammers, of Tilburg University, pose several questions in an attempt to better understand the ideological diversity between and within .

Inbar and Lammers contacted members on the mailing list for the Society for Personality and and asked them to participate in an anonymous . Across the two studies, the researchers received nearly 800 responses.

Their findings confirm the field's liberal bias, but they reveal some surprises as well.

Although only 6 percent of the respondents described themselves as conservative "overall," there was much more ideological diversity than anecdotal evidence would suggest. Inbar and Lammers found an overwhelming liberal majority when it concerned , but greater diversity on economic and foreign policy issues.

So why does the field appear to be less politically diverse than it actually is? It seems that conservative social psychologists hide their views because they perceive the field as hostile to their values. The more conservative respondents were, the more likely they were to report that they had experienced an intellectually unfriendly climate. Importantly, self-defined did not seem to have the same perceptions of .

Furthermore, liberal were more likely to say that they would discriminate against psychologists who displayed clear conservative views in the context of a paper or grant review, a symposium invitation, and in faculty hiring.

The September issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science includes five commentaries from scholars in the field who explore and discuss these new findings. While some of the commentators question the rigorousness of the methodology used by Inbar and Lammers, they all agree that ideological bias among social psychologists has serious implications for psychology as a scientific discipline.

Social tolerance and fairness are important values for many psychological scientists, so it's surprising to find intolerance of a different kind in the field. And despite the fact that psychological scientists are well aware of the potentially harmful effects of cognitive biases, they are clearly not immune to such biases themselves.

Several of the commentaries raise serious questions about how ideology might be shaping the issues and questions that social psychologists systematically choose – and do not choose – to explore.

It may be the case that the field attracts a certain kind of inquiring and open mind that tends to embrace liberal values, and that conservatives self-select out of the field. But this, most of the commentators agree, does not change the fact that pervasive liberal bias is unhealthy for intellectual inquiry.

As Inbar and Lammers and all five commentators suggest, the time is ripe for self-examination in the field.

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freethinking
1 / 5 (2) Sep 06, 2012
What a hoot. Could it be that psychologists are progressive because they can't find a real job? Even this article statement "It may be the case that the field attracts a certain kind of inquiring and open mind that tends to embrace liberal values", suggesting that liberals are open minded.

Progressives are the most hateful and closed minded people around.

Read more at: http://medicalxpr...html#jCp
Sigh
not rated yet Sep 07, 2012
It may be the case that the field attracts a certain kind of inquiring and open mind that tends to embrace liberal values

I looked for relevant research, and things seem a bit more complicated: http://www.scienc...9900135X Researchers in any field need intellectual curiosity, but the correlation of the two relevant facets of openness with political ideology is a bit complicated.

Progressives are the most hateful and closed minded people around.

And that statement of course demonstrates your open mind. Again. Remind me of the evidence you have.

freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2012
Sigh. My facebook page I have about 50/50 split between conservatives and progressives. Havent seen much hatred out of the conservative side, progressive side a lot.

In my personal life I meet with a lot of conservatives and progressives, guess which group is hateful? Progressives by far.

On Physorg, who writes hateful speach, wishes groups dead, again mostly progressives.

Other examples: http://www.freere...95/posts

While I agree not all progressives are hateful and closed minded, the a person is progressive, the more hateful and closed minded they are.
kochevnik
not rated yet Sep 09, 2012
@freeOfThinking Progressives are the most hateful and closed minded people around.
Why do you hate America?? Maybe you should consider moving to Afghanistan. They share your values.
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2012
K, you prove my point since you are a progressive.

Terrorists are the most closed minded hateful people around. You and the terrorists in Afghanistan have a lot in common.
Sigh
not rated yet Sep 09, 2012
Sigh. My facebook page I have about 50/50 split between conservatives and progressives. Havent seen much hatred out of the conservative side, progressive side a lot.

You may have noticed that whether people interpret the same remark as hatred or funny or just telling it as it is depends a lot on whether it is aimed at one of their own group or someone from the other side. I have not noticed political persuasions differing in that tendency. Even looking at your facebook page wouldn't tell me whether you are right or whether your perception is biased because my own bias would come in. I would need to have the same remarks judged by people with a variety of political opinions, measure whether political opinion influences how easily offended someone is, if yes I need to control for that statistically and see what is left of the effect you claim. That would be good evidence. Your subjective impression isn't, unless you are totally unbiased. Do you claim to be?
Sigh
1 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2012
freethinking, you and kochevnik have now accused each other of sharing values with terrorists. When kochevnik does it, you believe it proves your point since he is progressive. By implication, you think his accusation is an example of being hateful and close-minded. Is you making the same accusation proof that you are progressive, a counterexample to your claim, or do you argue the accusation is not hateful and close-minded when it comes from you?
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2012
Progressives do want the same out comes as terrorists. Absolute control.

Someone makes a stupid low budget film that no one has ever heard of, that is poorly made, and isn't even completed yet. Terrorists hear about it somehow, then go on a rampage killing people. Obama and other Progressives what do they do? They first condemn the makers of the film!

The truth is terrorists and Progressives have much in common.
Sigh
not rated yet Sep 14, 2012
Progressives do want the same out comes as terrorists.

Out of the three possible interpretations of you happily making an accusation that you consider hateful when coming from a progressive, I think I can safely exclude you being a progressive. That leaves either you providing a counterexample to your own rule in that you are a conservative spreading hate, or else there is a reason why you don't consider your accusation hateful. Is your repeating the accusation meant to imply that you only tell the truth, and that this opinion makes your accusation OK?
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2012
I believe you have the right to say anything you want, including what is deemed hate speech, or slandering Islam.
Progressives and terrorists don't.
I believe in the right to life. From the weakest to the strongest. Terrorists and Progressives believe in the culture of death.
I believe in freedom of religion. Terrorists and Progressives like to limit freedom of religion.
Progressives love to limit freedoms, so do terrorists.
Progressives live in culture of hate, so do terrorists.
Sigh
not rated yet Sep 14, 2012
Progressives live in culture of hate, so do terrorists.

You have expressed that opinion clearly enough already, you don't need to repeat it. Would you also answer my question? Does the accusation of having lots in common with terrorists not indicate hate when it comes from you?
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2012
Calling a murderer, a murderer is not hate.
Calling a terrorist, a terrorist is not hate.

The truth is not hate. Progressives just like terrorists love to call the truth hate.

Sigh
not rated yet Sep 14, 2012
The truth is not hate.

Does that depend on a statement being objectively true, or is it enough that whoever says something genuinely believes it to be true? Let's say that when kochevnik made the same accusation against you he genuinely believed he was telling the truth, just like you believe your accusations to be truth. Does that make his accusation not hateful? Or does him being, in your opinion, wrong turn what he believes to be truth into hate speech?
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2012
If someone genuinely believes it to be true, saying it is not hate speech.
A few years ago, a scientist published something that stated that blacks had a lower IQ than whites. I did not find his study hateful (even though I believed it was wrong), however the reaction from the media was. Instead of showing where he was wrong, they attacked him calling him all sorts of names. Those that attacked him were the hateful ones.

We can disagree and not accuse others of being hateful. I would love to be proved wrong, if you are a progressive that is open minded and not hateful, let me know.
Sigh
not rated yet Sep 16, 2012
If someone genuinely believes it to be true, saying it is not hate speech.

Do you have reason to believe that either kochevnik or the progressives on your facebook page don't believe what they write? Them being wrong would not be good enough evidence because biased interpretation of evidence accurs across the political spectrum. See http://www.cultur...ion.net.

We can disagree and not accuse others of being hateful. I would love to be proved wrong, if you are a progressive that is open minded and not hateful, let me know.

I like to think so, but how would I know without an objective test?