One of the nation’s leading experts on the psychology of politics will discuss his research during a public presentation at the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in Pugh Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” has written numerous articles explaining how moral psychology creates hyper-partisanship in American politics. Specifically, his recent work looks at how different notions of political morality could perhaps evolve and work together in bipartisan endeavors – one of the goals shared by the Bob Graham Center.

In “The Righteous Mind,” Haidt, a self-confessed liberal, argues that intuition, not reason, drives the moral foundations of political positions. Liberals value individual-protecting qualities that include the right to marry someone of the same gender, for example, while conservatives favor group-binding virtues based on a healthy respect for tradition, loyalty and authority. Libertarians, meanwhile, value very strong notions of individual freedom that tend to cut across mainstream liberal and conservative positions.

“I’m hoping to help large numbers of Americans understand what’s going on, understand themselves, and tone down the demonizing,” Haidt said. “To a liberal audience — and most of the audiences I speak to are liberal — I try to show that conservatives are not crazy. Rather, their morality is built on a different configuration of moral foundations. They are pursuing a vision of moral virtue, a common good, just like the left is.” Read more