February 12, 2011 1 Comment
Haidt had the deck stacked by delivering that speech to a room of social psychologists. Skitka and Tetlock conducted research suggesting that liberals tend to attribute events (particularly negative) to external forces (e.g., SES) while conservatives attribute them to internal forces (e.g., morality- Haight’s speciality). Social psychologists are concerned with context, and have classically referred to a tendency to attribute behavior to internal rather than external explanations the fundamental attribution error… So social psychologists consider conservative attribution style an error. Conservative social psychologists would either have to refute attribution theory or do some wicked mental gymnastics to get around that level of cognitive dissonance.
Of course, I really wish I had thought of that myself, as I’m a big believer that attribution theory helps to explain political ideology (and that conservatives get it wrong). The world would be a better place if more people simply understood the fundamental attribution error.