Liberals stereotype more
Those conservatives are appalling: They couldn’t care less if people get hurt. And liberals? They think anything goes, and have no concept of the meaning of loyalty.
Caricatures? Absolutely. But such stereotypes are widely held among Americans, newly published research confirms, with liberals particularly clueless about the concerns of conservatives.
Regarding issues of morality, “people overestimate how dramatically liberals and conservatives differ,” psychologists Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek and Jonathan Haidt write in the online journal PLoS One. Specifically, their research suggests those on the left unfairly assume their counterparts on the right are cold-hearted on issues involving harm and fairness.
“Extreme liberals exaggerated the moral political differences the most, and moderate conservatives did so the least,” Graham and his colleagues report. “Liberals were the least accurate about conservatives and about liberals.”
Liberals tended to stereotype conservatives as uncaring, rather than realize that conservatives’ genuine concerns about harm and fairness are tempered by other moral values that have less value to the left, such as loyalty and respect for authority.
Distorting the picture further, liberals tend to underestimate the degree to which their fellow liberals take those “conservative” values into account when making moral evaluations. Although conservatives did this to some degree, liberals showed a stronger tendency to stereotype their political soul mates, assuming an exaggerated level of ideological purity.
“We suspect that this is partially due to the fact that one can imagine members of one’s own ideological group more extreme than oneself,” the researchers write. “But this may also be a unique feature of moral stereotypes, in that people are motivated to exaggerate the moral values of their group in ways that are in line with the same values.”...