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Conservatives Have More Empathy Than Liberals

According to Merriam-Webster, Empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.”

Liberals have difficulty understanding concerns, ideas, principles, policies, and people related to the foundations of loyalty, authority, and sanctity. (1)  When Haidt speaks to liberal audiences about the binding foundations, “the audiences don’t just fail to resonate; the actively reject these concerns as immoral” (2). Conservatives embrace concerns related to all the foundations. They have little difficulty understanding liberals, and in fact do a good job of emulating them when asked to do so. (3).

Conservatives are more empathic than liberals.

The liberal conventional wisdom that liberalism is more empathic naturally follows from a moral matrix that essentially starts and ends with empathy, and sees practically anything that results from the other foundations as an affront to it.


(1) The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Vintage), pp 334-335.

(2) Ibid, p. 340

(3) Ibid, p.334-334


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