A key contributor to political conflict in the U.S. is the different factual beliefs held by liberals and conservatives about important policy-relevant matters such taxes, gun violence, climate change and election security. In this talk, Ditto will propose a three-part account of how such differential beliefs arise and are sustained, or more precisely, an account of how prescriptive beliefs (ideologically and morally-based intuitions regarding how the world should be) shape descriptive ones ("factual" beliefs regarding how the world really is). The account identifies three important contributing processes: Moralization (the infusion of political issues, events and actors with moral significance), Factualization (the construction of pseudo-descriptive justifications for moral evaluations), and Socialization (the reinforcement of morally-palatable beliefs by selective exposure to ideologically-sympathetic people, groups, and media sources). Each of these processes are typical of intergroup conflict but have been exacerbated by technological advances and exploited by political actors interested in promoting partisan animosities for political gain. The shortest part of his talk will focus on the hardest part of the problem: what we all can do to promote more civil and more rational political discourse.

Peter Ditto is a professor of psychological science in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. He received his B.A. from UCLA in 1982, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1986, both in psychology. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, he was a faculty member at Kent State University for 9 years before moving to UCI in 1997. Ditto is an experimental social psychologist whose expertise is in human judgment and decision making. His research focuses on "hot cognition" – how motivation and emotion shape (and often bias) our social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgments. His work has been published in top scientific journals including Science, Psychological Science, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Health Psychology, and Social Science & Medicine and been covered by numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Fox News, Time Magazine and the New Yorker. Ditto is a co-founder of the data collection website YourMorals.org and on the advisory board of CivilPolitics.org. His current research is focused on political polarization, civil politics, and the moral and psychological underpinnings of the "culture war" in contemporary American politics. Read his recently coauthored piece, courtesy of Science, that grapples with the question of political sectarianism in America.


This webinar will be recorded for educational purposes. Pre-registration is required. A Zoom link will be sent to confirmed registrants prior to the event. To request reasonable accommodations for a disability, or for further information, please email Claudia Cheffs, ccheffs@uci.edu.

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