Why Concepts Creep to the Left

Psychological Inquiry, Forthcoming

9 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2015

See all articles by Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Date Written: October 30, 2015


Nick Haslam's forthcoming paper, titled "Concept Creep" (available on SSRN) shows that many concepts in psychology have changed over time (e.g., bullying, trauma, addiction). Meanings shift so that these concepts apply to more phenomena and smaller phenomena. In this paper I extend Haslam’s analysis to explain why they change in one direction only: they "creep to the left." As psychology has become politically purified, its concepts have morphed to make them more useful to social justice advocates trying to prosecute and convict their opponents. This political shift poses a grave danger to the credibility of psychology.

Keywords: psychology, concepts, political correctness

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Haidt, Jonathan, Why Concepts Creep to the Left (October 30, 2015). Psychological Inquiry, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2702523

Jonathan Haidt (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

NYU-Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

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