Our Moral Tastebuds and Why the Working-Class Votes for the Political Right

In sum, the left has a tendency to place caring for the weak, sick and vulnerable above all other moral concerns. It is admirable and necessary that some political party stands up for victims of injustice, racism or bad luck. But in focusing so much on the needy, the left often fails to address — and sometimes violates — other moral needs, hopes and concerns. When working-class people vote conservative, as most do in the US, they are not voting against their self-interest; they are voting for their moral interest. They are voting for the party that serves to them a more satisfying moral cuisine.

Why do working-class people vote for the political right, even if the right’s political agenda appears to go against the working-class’s self-interest? Jonathan Haidt, a psychology professor at NYU, tackles this question and says it has a lot to do with our moral tastebuds. Since the working-class and political right share similar moral tastebuds, voters aren’t exactly voting against their own self-interest. So, what are your moral tastebuds? Haidt worked with the folks at YourMorals.org to identify six moral values: care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. Their research looked at how much you would have to pay someone to do something that went against a certain moral value, i.e., how much money would someone have to give you to get you to kick an innocent animal in the head?

I took the quiz. I actually wouldn’t take any amount of money for a lot of the things that were asked. Although, I apparently have something against obeying authority, which is surprising to me, because I generally follow all of the rules:

How’d you do?