No Compromise: Political Consequences of Moralized Attitudes
69 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
Extreme preferences do not explain an inability to approve political compromises that would make everyone better off. However, evolutionary, neuroscientific, and cognitive perspectives in psychology find that some attitudes are not only extreme, but moralized - a very different characteristic. Unlike extreme attitudes, moralized attitudes reorient behavior from maximizing gains to adhering to rules. Here, I examine the political implications of this phenomenon. In four studies drawing data from a variety of sources, I measure attitude moralization and examine how it relates to approval of political compromise. I find that moralized attitudes lead citizens to oppose compromises, punish compromising politicians, and even pay a monetary cost to obstruct political opponents' gain. These patterns emerge on social and economic issues alike and have implications for understanding political polarization.
Keywords: compromise, polarization, experiment, moral psychology
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