Monday, September 25, 2017

Universalist stereotyping. Everybody stereotypes their own people as well as outgroups.

From The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum by Jesse Graham, Brian A. Nosek, and Jonathan Haidt. They are working off the Moral Foundations theory.

From the abstract:
We investigated the moral stereotypes political liberals and conservatives have of themselves and each other. In reality, liberals endorse the individual-focused moral concerns of compassion and fairness more than conservatives do, and conservatives endorse the group-focused moral concerns of ingroup loyalty, respect for authorities and traditions, and physical/spiritual purity more than liberals do. 2,212 U.S. participants filled out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire with their own answers, or as a typical liberal or conservative would answer. Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about “typical” liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup's morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.
The discussion at the end of the paper is a little clearer.
Results indicate that people at all points on the political spectrum are at least intuitively aware of the actual differences in moral concerns between liberals and conservatives: they correctly predicted that liberals would care more than conservatives about the two individualizing foundations and that conservatives would care more than liberals about the three binding foundations. The results also confirm previous studies of partisan misperception by showing that, in general, people overestimate how dramatically liberals and conservatives differ. Remarkably, people even morally stereotype their own ingroup, with liberals overestimating liberals' strong individualizing concerns and underestimating liberals' weak binding concerns, and conservatives exaggerating conservatives' moral concerns in the opposite directions.

Our results go beyond previous studies, however, in finding and explaining an otherwise puzzling result: liberals were the least accurate. We presented three competing hypotheses about accuracy: 1) We found some support for the hypothesis that moderates would be most accurate, which they were in the case of the binding foundations. However, and most crucially, partisan inaccuracies were not mirror images of each other (in which case the red and blue lines in Figure 2 would have opposite slopes). On the contrary, liberals and conservatives both tended to exaggerate their binding foundation differences by underestimating the typical liberal and overestimating the typical conservative. 2) We found no support for the hypothesis that liberals would be most accurate; liberals were the least accurate about conservatives and about liberals. The largest inaccuracies were in liberals' underestimations of conservatives' Harm and Fairness concerns, and liberals further exaggerated the political differences by overestimating their own such concerns. 3) Finally, we found some support for the hypothesis that conservatives would be the most accurate, which they were in the case of the individualizing foundations. In line with Moral Foundations Theory, liberals dramatically underestimated the Harm and Fairness concerns of conservatives. These findings add to the literature on moral foundations by demonstrating a novel form of pragmatic validity for the theory: conceptualizing and measuring the moral stereotypes people have of different social groups.

While we obtained a nationally-representative sample for comparison of MFQ scores, it is important to note that the predicted answers as typical liberals/conservatives all came from a non-representative Project Implicit sample. However, the participants in this study do “run the gamut” across the ideological spectrum, from very liberal to very conservative, and Figure 3 demonstrates exaggeration across all 7 points on the political orientation item. Extreme liberals exaggerated the moral political differences the most, and moderate conservatives did so the least.


The ideological “culture war” in the U.S. is, in part, an honest disagreement about ends (moral values that each side wants to advance), as well as an honest disagreement about means (laws and policies) to advance those ends. But our findings suggest that there is an additional process at work: partisans on each side exaggerate the degree to which the other side pursues moral ends that are different from their own. Much of this exaggeration comes from each side underestimating the degree to which the other side shares its own values. But some of it comes, unexpectedly, from overestimating the degree to which “typical” members of one's own side endorse its values.


It is striking that instead of basic partisan outgroup derogation, in which both sides predict that the other is less moral in general, we found foundation-specific moral stereotypes about liberals and conservatives—and these moral stereotypes were largely shared by all. Participants across the political spectrum exaggerated liberal moral disregard for Ingroup, Authority, and Purity, and conservative disregard for Harm and Fairness—that is, exaggerations of the patterns predicted by Moral Foundations Theory. This suggests that moral stereotypes might be unique in that they are motivated (partisans want to cast the other side as immoral) and yet partisans share the same moral stereotypes about either side. Even more surprising, they share both of these moral stereotypes with moderates, who are presumably not as motivated to stereotype either side.


In this study, we focused on the moral values of ideological opponents, and their perceptions of the moral values of either side, in order to understand the moral “distrust and animosity” endemic to the liberal-conservative culture war. We found that there are real moral differences between liberals and conservatives, but people across the political spectrum exaggerate the magnitude of these differences and in so doing create opposing moral stereotypes that are shared by all. Calling attention to this unique form of stereotyping, and to the fact that liberal and conservative moral values are less polarized than most people think, could be effective ways of reducing the distrust and animosity of current ideological divisions.

'It's a pathetic bird, a miserable bird, a wretched bird.'

The English are such a profoundly storytelling and literate people. Their, and our, habit of documenting, and then recasting as stories, everything that goes on leads to layers and layers of stories.

An example here from 'Will A Lion Come?' Memories of Evelyn Waugh by Richard Acton, in The Spectator, 19 September, 1992. He recounts an incident when Waugh visited his family which Waugh then worked into one of his masterpieces, Scoop. At least, it is one of my favorites among his works.
In 1936 Waugh was 32, and famous. He had marooned himself in Shropshire to work on a travel book, Waugh in Abyssinia. My parents then lived in Shropshire at Aldenham Park. My father's sister, Mia Woodruff, brought the writer over that April, and Waugh wrote to my mother: 'I absolutely loved my visit.' Soon after that, Waugh came for another weekend. On the Sunday afternoon, my father proposed that they go for a walk. My father was immensely proud of a great crested grebe which nested on our lake — the Shore Pool - and he wanted to show the grebe to Waugh. The latter was violently opposed to the plan. Alcohol had flowed that day and Waugh objected that 'the poisons ought to be allowed to settle'.

My father won, and my parents set off, dragging their reluctant guest with them. Eventually the party got to the Shore Pool and sighted the grebe. Waugh was furious at its inadequacies and gave vent to his feelings: 'It's a pathetic bird, a miserable bird, a wretched bird.'

A few months later Waugh began Scoop, and the grebe became immortal. William Boot, the hero, first appears while he is writing a weekly nature column called 'Lush Places'. William is in despair over an article on badgers. His sister, out of mischief, had substituted 'the great crested grebe' for 'badger' throughout his piece, and William had received indignant complaints from his readers. One nature lover
challenged him categorically to produce a single authenticated case of a great crested grebe attacking young rabbits
— and so William's adventures begin. Sent to Africa to report on the war in Ishmaelia, William is a hopeless war correspondent. As the book reaches its climax, the grebe has become a god. William, in a slough of despond, bows his head:
'Oh, great crested grebe,' he prayed, `maligned fowl, have I not expiated the wrong my sister did you?'
The grebe answers William's prayer, and as a result, William gets the 'scoop' of the title.

But even this mockery of the grebe did not appease Waugh's fury over the infamous walk with my parents. Twenty years later he wrote The Life of Ronald Knox. Contempt for the great crested grebe smoulders in Waugh's pointed description of the Shore Pool, `. . . a lake which has afforded pleasure to ornithologists'.

A Young Girl Reading

A Young Girl Reading by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797)

All psychological traits show significant and substantial genetic influence

From Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics by Robert Plomin, et al.

No knowledge is certain and all knowledge is always contingent. Social sciences and psychology are particularly weak in terms of reliability of findings and replication. So take it with a pinch of salt, but this is an interesting list of the most replicated findings in behavioral genetics.
Finding 1. All psychological traits show significant and substantial genetic influence

Finding 2. No traits are i00% heritable

Finding 3. Heritability is caused by many genes of small effect

Finding 4. Phenotypic correlations between psychological traits show significant and substantial genetic mediation

Finding 5. The heritability of intelligence increases throughout development

Finding 6. Age-to-age stability is mainly due to genetics

Finding 7. Most measures of the "environment" show significant genetic influence

Finding 8. Most associations between environmental measures and psychological traits are significantly mediated genetically

Finding 9. Most environmental effects are not shared by children growing up in the same family

Finding 10. Abnormal is normal (Quantitative genetic methods suggest that common disorders are the extremes of the same genetic factors responsible for heritability throughout the distribution.)

Good dog!

From The New Yorker.

Click to enlarge.

Come live & be merry and join with me

Laughing Song
by William Blake

When the green woods laugh, with the voice of joy
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by,
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.

When the meadows laugh with lively green
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily,
With their sweet round mouths sing Ha, Ha, He.

When the painted birds laugh in the shade
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread
Come live & be merry and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of Ha, Ha, He.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Next Door by Linden Frederick

Next Door by Linden Frederick

Click to enlarge.

Avebury by Sean Haldane

by Sean Haldane

Among the timeless stones what takes the eye
Is a girl on a bicycle -
Pink blouse, and black skirt riding up her thigh -
Pedalling fast
As if in danger in this place,
Through time a-race.

The church clock strikes above the chanting choir
At practice, and the doves inside their cote
Cru-croo-cru, cru-croo-cru, cru-croo-cru,
Then lower - Ooo, Ooo, Ooo - throat to throat.

Impossible to tell which stones, which sheep
Against the downs from far - all seem to sleep,
Until the little ones jostle the big
To suckle and their plangent baas are heard
Quavering through the stilled air of dusk,
Circles dissolve, stones seem to push and shove -
Except the giant ones nothing will move.

Like weeping, laughing dodderers and crones
Humped or crouching in the grass, the stones
Scarred by cutting flints, eroded, lined,
Holding hands to knobbly chins, must know
More than the visitors who come and go.

As the sun sinks I mount the avenue,
Each stone a foresight for a nimbus flash.
My heart is heavy as the sun's red ball,
For at the top is (nothing?): darkness, pall.

Some stones are coupled: male to female face,
Tall-short, slim-broad - great Mammas and Papas,
Their children straggle after them in lines
Doing what they have been set to do,
Pointing out the way the centuries through.
The living (no more living?) couples pass
Between them, interweaving on the grass,
Hand in hand to watch the red sun set.
These lovers haven't faced each other yet.

In the pub within the ancient ring
Yobs hit the jackpot on the fruit machine,
Neon lights flash, the jukebox flickering
As the pale barmaid hears a goddess sing:
'Taam after taam.'
Outside the plaintive bleating of a lamb:
The dugs are dry.
The dead sun's blood is streaming in the sky
Around the spearpoints of the church's tower.
The darkened stones retain their endless power.
From The Spectator, 25 July, 1987

The basics when you are a dog on the internet

From The New Yorker.

Click to enlarge.