Saturday, May 20, 2006

More politics of Division

There is a bias known in psychology as the "outgroup homogeneity bias", where members of "other groups" have less diversity that our own group. It is a bit like "all 'X' are 'Y'" or at least very similar to some prototypical exemplar or percpetion of the "average" member of that group.

Combine this with another well know psychological phenomenon of stereotyping. Basing your opinion of someone based on their membership in a certain group, generally a group that you feel is inferior to your own group (in-group bias), also known in an extremem form as racism, sexism, etc.

So - what does this have to do with the politics of division; the "us" vs. "them" mentality encouraged by the politicians and the punditry? LOTS.

It is difficult to fight with someone when you know about them, and is far easier to fight with someone when you can place them in some "external" group (e.g. Conservatives and Liberals). Note that there are two things going on here, one is by labeling someone, you have diminished their personhood, making them far easier to dislike. Also, by assigning them to a group (an outgroup), you have imbued them with a whole set of beliefs due to outgroup homogeneity bias.

So - how to fix this? Talk values. Get back to the basic values from which you derive a position. It is a well known recommendation in negotiations that you talk "issues" not "positions" because positions have some self-identity wrapped up in them.

In the political world, we can talk issues as well, not positions like "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice". What are you OBJECTIVES in the ISSUES and VALUES, not what position have you adopted.

By recognizing that all people cannot be adequately represented by the stereotyped examplar of a group, we can begin to debate the issues and try to take back this country.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home