top of page

Dungeons and Dragons and Political Ideology with Stephen Vaisey

Dr. Stephen Vaisey is a professor of Sociology and Political Science at Duke University. He is the Director of the Worldview Lab at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, where he studies the nature, origins, and effects of moral and political beliefs. Dr. Vaisey was part of the research team for the National Study of Youth and Religion, and is the Principal Investigator of the Measuring Morality Project. In this podcast, we discuss four popular theories of how morality and political ideology are related, the need for a developmental science of moralization, the power of shared communal values for behavioral mobilization, and inter-generational changes in common values.

APA citation: Cazzell, A. R. (Host). (2020, March 10). Dungeons and Dragons and Political Ideology with Stephen Vaisey [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from


NOTE: This transcript was generated automatically. Please excuse typos and errors.

Stephen Vaisey (00:01:19):

When I went to college, I did really badly. I think I had a 1.9 GPA my first semester, so I wanted to start taking some classes that would that would bring up my GPA. So I had taken French all through junior high and high school and stuff. I took a bunch of French classes and I decided strangely to major in French and I was very much into to literary theory and understanding all that kind of stuff. And then my wife and I who got married in undergrad, we went on a study abroad for theater and I used to get in these arguments all the time with the director of the program about literary theory. And I just sort of had this epiphany one night that I was going to there was no way to win any arguments, you know, without some kind of third party reference, like data or something like that.

Stephen Vaisey (00:02:06):

So I went back and I'm very interested in sort of societal change and disruption and things. And so I was very interested in, in literature from the early 19th century France and around the time of the revolution and some of the, I guess now I would call them, I don't know if I called them them, then but psychological changes that sort of went with changes in the social order and things like that. So I, so I realized it was a field where I could study these sorts of things, but then there was, then also had data, so at least in theory win arguments, so I decided to become a sociologist basically for that reason. And then of course, you know, I didn't know totally what I wanted to do. I thought I was gonna study a bunch of different things, but I, I got into morality a little bit later.

Stephen Vaisey (00:02:51):

Initially kind of as a side project because I wasn't sure if it was a serious topic of study. Well one of the things I was surprised about was that in the sociology of culture, which is this sort of sub-domain that covers morality. And in my field in sociology there there was this, there was there, there was and is to some extent still is the dominant view, which is called toolkit theory. And the basic idea there was that people use sort of mortality values and things like that as, as cultural tools to help them sort of fine tune their strategies of action. But most of the things they do are, you know, based on social rules or based on networks or different things like that. And so as somebody who was a very earnest kid and I grew up in a religious household, I'm not religious at all anymore, but I grew up in a pretty religious household and, and, and at least felt like I based a lot on decision.

Stephen Vaisey (00:03:52):

Then on some of those things I, I thought this theory doesn't make any sense. You know, like people are, you know, of course I'm motivated by other things and you know, avoiding embarrassment and making money and different things like that. But people are definitely also motivated by their moral values and moral ideals. And so I started working on this initially as a side project in my, you know, second or third, year of graduate school and then got involved with the national study of youth and religion, which was a, a, a big study at lunch, juvenile study of teenagers and, you know, so we did a huge survey. We also went out and followed them up. So I ended up interviewing some of the same kids in that project, you know, like H, you know, 13, 15, you know, 18 and you know, 20, 21 or whatever and that, so that was super interesting.

Stephen Vaisey (00:04:44):

You know, over the course of that period of time. So, yeah, just talking to people about morality, talking to people about their sort of world views and things like that just got me really fascinated and and sociology there, the emphasis is on diversity in the sense that, you know, we don't assume that everybody's the same. You know, so I was reading all the, I was reading all the neuroscience stuff and the philosophy stuff and things about deontology and utilitarianism and you know, stuff you don't have Josh Greene stuff and, and and all that kind of, you know, those things. But but I well of course as a sociologist, the rule is, you know, that you want to explain or you want to account for some variation. You know, you wanna understand why are people different, why are people arguing about politics? You know, why did people from different social classes, you don't see this issue in different ways. And so that's where I got really interested in this. There's probably a lot more to it than that. You know, I ended up stumbling across John Haidts work I got really interested in sort of dual process accounts. And things like that. And yeah, so there's a lot, but that's the, you know, semi short version.

Amber Cazzell (00:05:55):

Well, there's a couple, there's a couple of things in there. So first of all, the national study for youth and religion, that was, that's like the Christian Smith.

Stephen Vaisey (00:06:04):

Yes, he was. Yes, that's right. He was my my dissertation advisor there at UNC. I mean, he wasn't, initially, I didn't go there to work with them initially. I went there to study sort of work like what's the right term--working occupations, I guess. I wanted to study, you know, welfare to work transitions and things like that. Like to be more structural or you know you know, almost like a labor economics type thing. And then gradually that side project came the main project. And so Chris was my was my thesis advisor and then he, he left for Notre Dame, I think. But I was in my fourth, or maybe between my fourth and fifth year of graduate school, but he was still on my committee. They grandfathered him in on my committee. But yeah, he's the, he was my mentor for the sort of key formative time.

Amber Cazzell (00:06:54):

Yeah. So I mean that was a, that was a huge project. I mean, so for listeners who aren't familiar with it, can you give just sort of a quick rundown of what the study was and what it found?

Stephen Vaisey (00:07:06):

Yeah, sure. It was the national study of youth and religion started in 2002 and it consists about 3370 survey respondents between ages of 13 and 17 in the United States from a national probability sample. And then we followed them from 2002 until, I think the last wave was maybe 2013 or 2014. So we did it four waves altogether. And then one of the things that was really interesting in addition to it being a national probability sample was that we did in depth interviews with a subset of respondents at all the waves. So I think the first way we did 274 in depth interviews. And so that's actually how I got involved in it. You know, I was a first year, I just finished my first year of grad school and they were offering, you know, to pay grad students over the summer, you know, to go out and, you know, do these interviews.

Stephen Vaisey (00:08:03):

So I went all over the country that summer. I think I did 26 26 of those interviews that summer. And so, yeah. So that's, but yeah, some of the main findings, I mean the problem, you know, it's, it's a huge data set in a way that's would be like asking, you know, what are some of the main findings of the general social survey or the, you know, the national economic or a national election study. But because there's so much there, and this often happens in sociology where the main motivation was really to understand, or the main sort of stated motivation was to understand religion. But the religion per se was probably only 30% of the survey and there was a lot of stuff about, you know, there was other, there were some moral stuff with some demographic stuff and stuff about future aspirations.

Stephen Vaisey (00:08:48):

What kind of job, you know, people want to have when they grow up. So that data set is really useful to study. Lots of different things. But I think you know what so Chris, if you want to think about the sort of main stories up in astral so you can, can religion, I think Chris Smith's books, you know, do a pretty good job. I think he wrote a book, I think he wrote, ended up writing three books that were sort of big overviews of, of NSYR but, but but he's much more interested in religion than I am, so I'm probably not fully the right person.

Stephen Vaisey (00:09:18):

Yeah, exactly. It was like, Hey, this stuff you know, matters and affects you. You can use it, predict people's future life outcomes and, you know, and there's some interesting cultural stuff in the sense that, you know, and this, I guess does tie into my work that people can be religious and have it be like a big part of who they are without being able to reason accurately or consistently through any sort of, you know, theological anything. And that, I guess that is kind of part of my what ultimately ended up being my dissertation work because I wanted to understand how people could have beliefs that were motivating even if they couldn't explain what those beliefs were. So I got really interested in implicit culture and implicit belief, some things like that. And that's what I essentially ended up doing my, my dissertation on was the role of implicit beliefs.

Stephen Vaisey (00:10:12):

Cause I showed that there was a, you know, there was a, I wont go into the whole thing, but basically you can use some survey answers to predict people's future behavior and the NSYR. But there's very little connection between the kind of answers that people gave. The survey and the kind of answers that people gave in the interviews because people just aren't good at describing their, their, their moral beliefs. People aren't really good at describing any moral views. So if you give them, you know, the analogy that I always use for this was like our, you know, if I show you four pictures, like four paintings, you generally wouldn't have to, you know, four different paintings. And I say, okay, you've got to hang one of these in your, in your living room. You know, pick one. People don't generally have too much trouble with that, but if you ask them, you sit down with them and say, okay, you know, tell me, you know, what's your, what, what kind of art do you like?

Stephen Vaisey (00:10:55):

You know, most people can't answer that question very well. So, so that's the, that was kind of the basis for my dissertation work, which showed that, you know, people's choices from a fixed list of moral stuff. You know, so the question that I use most of my dissertation was there was the questions said, Hey, if you were in a situation where you were unsure what was right and wrong to do, how would you decide what to do? Would you answer? The first choice was do, what would make you feel happy. Second choice was do what would have helped me get ahead. The third choice was do what merits a teacher or follow the advice of a parent-teacher other I respect, and fourth was do what you would think or scripture says. Right. And so that, that is based on what, and there's a huge, actually, it's funny, it's one survey question, but there's a huge intellectual lineage there because that question was a reworking of a question asked by James Davidson Hunter who wrote the book, who was like the big sort of culture war guy.

Stephen Vaisey (00:11:52):

And he that question that when he wrote it was an attempt to sort of operationalize the categories that Bella Robert Bella and his colleagues worried about it and Habits of the Heart and the mid eighties, which was a huge study of sort of moral differences in the U S anyway. It so yeah, so when that question has kind of a long, a long pedigree, but as always in sociology, when you want national representative samples, you can't afford to ask like 20 questions about everything. Like, you know, everybody gets their like three questions, you know, you just do the best you can with it because they know that study costs millions and millions dollars. So yeah. So anyway, so that's that's kinda how yeah, that's kinda how that happened with the NSyR. So just that people can, yeah. And so I got really into, you know, dual process theory and the psychology of, I guess you call it moral psychology you know, that type of stuff because it ended up being super generative for my for my work in sociology to understand, you know, that the people aren't going to be able to explain to you what their sort of deep, deeply held beliefs are, but they can react to things in ways that help you understand what their commitments are.

Amber Cazzell (00:12:58):

Yeah. So now just dual process as associate, does that mean essentially the same thing as it would to a psychologist?

Stephen Vaisey (00:13:08):

Yeah, I mean, yes, and that's where I got, because I sort of proceeded from, you know, I read John Haidt's stuff. So this was in the mid two thousands of 2005. I started reading John Haidt's stuff, but not the more, obviously the more reasons that we tend to Britain, but the but the emotional dog and rational tail. And that got me to reading dual dual process. There's more generally. And the idea there was that, you know, you can't just sit down and ask people questions and have them tell you, you know, but what their theory of why things are good or bad, you know, they have, they can judge that they can have. So explain and and so I, you know, I've been following that literature pretty closely ever since then. I understand that, you know, whether there's actually two processes or you know, was sort of type one type two thing.

Stephen Vaisey (00:13:53):

You know, for my purposes as a heuristic, I think it's very useful to know that there's something like implicitness, but I don't have any, you know, for the, for the level at which I'm using it. It doesn't, it doesn't matter whether it's, you know, one process or one process that you know, that is running for a long time or a short amount of time or you know, whether they're really sort of biologically distinct processes. We don't have any skin in that game. But I guess the idea is just that people can, can have commitments. They can't articulate that. That is the, you know, that was a big take home for, for me and for my my students who've kept up work on that. So, you know, Andrew Miles at Toronto and is the one who's really kept trying to figure out the measurement side of dual process. But yeah, the words do mean the same thing to a psychologist. Yeah.

Amber Cazzell (00:14:40):

Cool. So speaking of like dual process and the Hunter's culture wars, and Andrew Miles, let's switch to that line of work of yours. So I, I want to talk about Steve Rowe for listeners. Steve wrote a paper with Andrew Miles about how morality is related to political ideology and that there are sort of at least four various theories that have tried to claim, okay, here's, here's how morality and, and political affiliation or ideology sort of link up and then tried to find like what are the useful, what are the useful strands that come out of that? So I think a lot of the listeners by now are going to be familiar with moral foundations theory and Jonathan Haidt. And probably I assume Schwartz, I'm not sure about Hunter and Lakoff. And those were both those, those, those theories were both new to me. So would you mind just briefly going over sort of all four of those theories?

Stephen Vaisey (00:15:45):

Yeah, no problem. So yeah, so this, this really does come out of the measuring morality project. Which I started when I was at Berkeley as an assistant professor and then brought here to Duke with me, which was you know, I, as I got into this literature and I was publishing stuff and started working with with some psychologists, I've done some work with with, with John Haidt and Jesse Graham and some other folks and Morteza Dehghani. And so, so one of the things that struck me as I started to dig into this literature was that, you know, man, it's just a huge number of ways that people have been measuring, you know, moral stuff. So, you know, people will say they're interested in morality, but you know, one group's got the, you know, the know moral identity and another group's got, you know, sort of a Kholberg, Turiel based stuff.

Stephen Vaisey (00:16:33):

Another group's got, you know, this and that, and you know and I know Darcia was just on your just on your podcast and you know, so, so I, I invited what I did was I got this grant in about 2010, 2011 I think that for the measuring morality project, and the goal of that was to bring together people from, from sociology, psychology, sort of related fields. We had somebody from linguistics and some other people to basically try and feel it, a national representative survey that asked people pretty much everything to see how kind of everything fit together, kind of a Rosetta stone sort of situation. Now. That's what we wanted to do. So a lot of these discussions are like, what is, what are these political differences? Or what are these differences really quote unquote about, you know, you know, what are the difference between liberals and concerns really about, so with moral foundations theory, for example you know, to go through these step by step moral foundations theory, you know, it's essentially that you know everybody cares about harm and fairness, but conservatives also care about you know, loyalty, authority, and purity you know so that would be one example.

Stephen Vaisey (00:17:42):

So that's what, so on that account, that's what those things are really, that's what the liberal and conservative differences are really about. Then you have a, you know, Schwartz's value stuff in there. It's a little more subtle but short, you know, has of course this you know, his theory of values that he's been working on for forever and, you know, with some refinements and, and so there, you'd expect there to be some, you know, differences in liberal conservative differences would be primarily about like security you know, about conformity, about tradition versus, you know, universalism, self-expression, things like that. And so that, that would be on that account. That's kind of what those you know, would really be about, and then you have a situ, then you have, so the two that might be new to you were George Lakoff's work, George Lakoff this, you know, depending on how old you are, I think you're maybe two after this, but but you know, George Huff was like in the Al Gore era, the you know, sort of the 2000 election, George Lake off was like the guy like the scientific guy for understanding moral differences.

Stephen Vaisey (00:18:44):

And he had this book, this book I'm trying to remember. I'm totally blanking. I can visualize it in my mind, but I can't see the title. But anyway it's moral politics. Okay. Yeah, there it is. And so his argument basically is that liberal conservative differences really come down to two differences in parenting style. That essentially what you have is politics is super complicated. So people reason about politics from things they understand. And there are two basic cognitive models of parenting. The, the strict father model and the nurtrant parent a model. And so like upsets, you know, those are the orientations people have. And then those get elaborated into what we would think of int the US as being, you know, traditional conservative view and traditional sort of liberal view. And, you know, the strict fathers, like, you know, people have to own their actions.

Stephen Vaisey (00:19:38):

You have to take responsibility for the things that you do, you know you know, personal responsibility, tough love, you know, that kind of stuff. Whereas on the nurturant parent side, it's things like you know, helping people support, you know, support their development and you know, sort of more active nurturing role, you know, people need support to reach their potential and things like that. So, anyway, so Lakoff had this theory and it was really based on, you know, it was, it was, he's a philosopher, he's a linguist really, but but has written a lot of stuff in philosophy. And this was a huge deal. He had this book called don't think of an elephant, you know, trying to help democratic party operatives learn how to speak in ways that would be sort of morally effective at persuading people and things like that.

Stephen Vaisey (00:20:22):

So he was a huge deal in the early 2000s, the time period. And he's still, I mean you know, I haven't kept in touch with them for a while, but we were colleagues at Berkeley, one dissertation together I think. And but anyway, he he had this theory of the sort of strict parent nurturing. And so we tried that. We, there were a few pieces in political science that had tried to measure this using data from the national election study. And so we wanted to do was, was approached the Lake officer group and get 'em and say, okay, if you could measure this in a survey, cause they'd never done that before. It really, if you could measure this, these kind of differences in a survey, what would you, what would you ask? And so we worked with people from Berkeley on Lakoff's team to develop up those, those kind of questions.

Stephen Vaisey (00:21:08):

They were really about trying to, to arrange people on this demand, this, you know, one dimension or two dimensions of a strict parent and a strict father and nurturant parent or whatever. So, so yeah, so that's that one. And then the final one was kind of based on the Hunter stuff. But it was, this is really more out of a strain of literature and sociology, which Hunter is a sociologist, but essentially relativism, absolutism, relativism, if you want to think of it that way. Kind of that, the main difference between liberals and conservatives is, you know, liberals are relative moral relativists and and, and conservatives are moral realists or moral, you know, they believe in moral realism, moral objectivity. And so, yeah, so we had, so we, I got this group of people together and we didn't have that much money.

Stephen Vaisey (00:21:56):

So we met at the Chicago you know, we met at O'Hare, some hotel like Hilton or something. It was like a pretty, it was not a very nice hotel. So I'm really grateful to those people for, for, for flying to essentially airport hotel to have this meeting. But so I got a bunch of people together from it was, it was a pretty good group. Jesse Graham was there. I'm trying to remember who else was there. Darcia Narvaez was there on that measuring morality on the site and Linda Skitka Lene Jensen. And then you know Matt Feinberg I don't know if he was at the meeting, but he contributed through from the Lakoff group, Karl Aquino was there. Yeah. So anyway, there was a then and so, yeah, so it was really so, so I didn't, I, you know, I was like a first year, second year assistant professor when we you know, started this.

Stephen Vaisey (00:22:53):

So they were very, they were very nice to me. Everybody was very nice and, and everybody asked came, so that was cool. And so we did, we built, we built this giant thing. They would build this giant survey and wanted to understand you know, see if we could do this sort of Rosetta stone, let's say. Okay. When somebody answers like this you know, moral foundations theory, what does that imply about how they would answer in terms of, you know, we're all relatives and mass absolutism. We don't, when somebody has a Schwartz value profile, it's like this, you know, where would they fit into Haidt's scheme or whatever. So that, so that was kind of the idea. And it turns out that's a really, really hard problem because of, Hey man, I read the differences. I won't go into all the technical details, but in all these questions are measured with very different types of scales and things like that.

Stephen Vaisey (00:23:38):

So that issue posed a problem. But I mean, it's, so I won't go into some of the failed projects that we have fooling around with that data. But some of the more successful things we did were that we wanted to look at political differences. So Andrew Miles who teaches at the University of Toronto He and I did this paper on that you mentioned, which is on a political differences. And the main thing about that paper is that we try to say, okay, let's try and predict whether a person says they're liberal, conservative, kind of with you know, with all this, all these things we have. And we didn't use everything because we wanted to kind of keep it, we wanted, we didn't want to have 12 different theories. We kept the ones that were pretty firmly oriented toward toward understanding political differences.

Stephen Vaisey (00:24:29):

And so we we did that. And it turns out that what we came up with, I didn't realize this at the time. I wished I realized it at the time. I should've realized it at the time. But essentially when you have a, we found a few different dimensions and using all these different things. And the main dimensions are essentially how much do you care about people you don't know, you know, how much do you care about, you know, others, innocent life or other people or whatever. You know, how much you worry about it, other people. And so there are some people are more worried and some people are less worried. And then there's the other dimension is essentially about social order, which is, you know, how much do you care about society being organized as opposed to being a little bit more, laissez-faire fair.

Stephen Vaisey (00:25:11):

And when I realized after we published this paper, which I should've, I should've known this because I grew up in this, I don't know if you'll know what I'm talking about, but I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons. And this is essentially the the D and D alignment system. It's like, you know, good to evil is one dimension and the other dimensions are lawful with chaotic. And I think that's what Andrew and I discovered in this project as being the sort of two main dimensions where, you know, some people would have a talent, you know, and so we thought about it as like, how much do you care about other people and how much you care about social order. And then there's, you know, there's, there's a third dimension, which is really about but it's a weaker dimension, which is I think more about sort of self-development, like, which, so some people wouldn't, I don't think we'd call that that moral like a self focus of, of you know, self-direction, stimulating, basically like individualism. So that might be a sort of third dimension there. But yeah, that's what we did with that. And yeah, we, I, that was a fun project. We should have probably followed up more with that. But I am very, I have a very short attention span. So generally when I've done something I kinda keep doing it. But Andrew's done you know, more than I have, but that was a really, that was a real fun paper to do.

Amber Cazzell (00:26:28):

Yeah. So first a couple things. So first of all, I want to do a shout out to the measuring morality project I saw online that, like you guys will share the data with others.

Stephen Vaisey (00:26:37):

Oh yeah. It's just, yeah. Free to download. Yeah. We've, it's been up since about 2013. Yeah,

Amber Cazzell (00:26:43):

I mean, I didn't realize that. So shout out to that to that just said if you're looking for data. And then the second thing that I think is interesting, so for first of all, sort of that other focused factor and then the order factor, those both were predictive of sort of self identified political affiliation, but the self focus wasn't, is that correct?

Stephen Vaisey (00:27:13):

That's right. Yeah. And I think that's because, you know, a lot of people like that probably has more to do with I'm just, you know, that probably has more to do with age to be honest. I would guess that that has more to do with generational differences and potentially class differences. Then it has to do with a sort of political worldview differences. So per se, you know, how much is life about, you know, about, about your own personal development and personal achievement.

Stephen Vaisey (00:27:42):

So I just, I think, yeah, I mean that's, we have, Andrew and I have another paper where we tried to predict where we try to, where we use demographic stuff to predict moral differences on a bunch of different scales. And this would not surprise, I think sociologists. But the real issue there is age. I mean, and, and age, age, you want to be careful because age in a cross sectional survey, like measuring morality, age means two different things. Age means like how old you are when you take the survey, but it also means what year were you born. And so a lot of the rest of the work I've done is about disentangling, you know, like different kinds of change. And so what the way to interpret age is not that people get, you know, whatever more conservative as they get older and things like that, which is mostly not true.

Stephen Vaisey (00:28:24):

What it is, is most people reflect, most people's views reflect the circumstances of their birth. Yeah. And so, yeah, so people, you know, that's, that's essentially what I'm working on now is trying to show that this is, it's not quite this simple, but basically, you know, first approximation, people don't change. They just die and they are replaced by people you know, who have different beliefs. And yeah. So I've, I have a couple of papers you know I just went, another one's got accepted yesterday. That that that show that in different ways. But yeah, so it's not a big surprise to me looking at that, that, that the main differences for predicting morality are not even politics, you know, even though that's interesting and that's what gets the clicks. I think that's one of the reasons why Haidt's stuff I think has been so has done so well is because that and that, I don't think this is a bad thing by the way.

Stephen Vaisey (00:29:16):

I just, that the framing has been about politics or George Lakoff's stuff in the early, mid two thousands. The idea of making this about politics you know, is something that's of interest to people. And so, you know, it's a good way to sort of get a hook in, but, but, but in general, if you want to understand, you know, how a person's going to respond to questions like, you know, moral foundations questionnaire, I would guess that or especially Schwartz's values, I would guess that age would play at least as big a role in most cases as political.

Amber Cazzell (00:29:48):

Okay. So to clarify, it sounds like you're suggesting that that self-focus factor fell out of predictive ability more when you controlled for the demographics, whereas other focused and order factors kind of clung around, I think the paper said it was about 30% of the variance in political ideology. It was explained by those factors.

Stephen Vaisey (00:30:12):

Yeah, no, that sounds about right. It's been awhile now, but that sounds about right. But yeah, my guess would be based on, on what I recall from that, you know, how it is, you know, it's been 400 years, but is that that, yeah, the order and other focus are primarily what political differences. And again, I don't mean this to be and the goal is, was never to sort of say, ah, you know, everybody's talking about what these things are really about. But now we're able to tell you what they are really, really about. You know, I don't know. I think there's just different ways to carve this up and I'm kind of convinced that I don't know, the older I've gotten, the more I think that it might not be totally possible to reduce a lot of these things to, or at least it, I mean, okay.

Stephen Vaisey (00:31:00):

They're, they're kind of two things. This is the way I'm thinking about it now is they're kind of two things there. There are ideas and there are teams and essentially it's only when the team fails to provide you with a a position that a person might start to think about like how ideas fit together. But for the most part, people aren't interested in how ideas because that's not how people think. You know, like accuracy is not a huge, not a hugely important, like, especially at moral accuracy. If there is such a thing is not really important to most people. What's important to most people is having status and acceptance in society or the people around them. And so, you know, that's one of the reasons why, you know, you see, for example, all the attention that you know, Mitt Romney has gotten, you know, for voting for to convict the president on one of the charges because it's like, wow, you know, he didn't vote with the group. And yeah, and that's, I think that's most people. You needed a heuristic, another paper on this Andre Boutyline who's a professor now at the University of Michigan. Could you say that again?

Stephen Vaisey (00:32:11):

Oh, sorry. Andre Boutyline and who's a, he is a one of my former students from Berkeley and is a professor at Michigan now. He and I have published a paper but two or three years ago and American journal of sociology that shows that that looks at belief networks. Essentially it's saying, if, you know, if there, if beliefs really did grow out of a central principle, you know, what, we have more political views really grew out of a central, could we look at patterns in the data and try to identify what that central principle is under a very simple model of belief generation. And we know the model's not realistic, it's too simple, but, but but if you build a model like that and, and try to make it fit with the data, the only thing that looks even remotely plausible as a source of as a source of structure for holding ideas together is political identification is, you know, do you consider yourself liberal or conservative?

Stephen Vaisey (00:33:07):

And so I, you know, I think that, you know, people like us who think a lot, you know, we sort of assume that, you know, people are interested in making a decent together. And this goes back to 1964 film converse you know, in, in, in political science, you know, talked about constraint. And basically, you know, most people, the ideas aren't a lot. You know, people aren't logical. They don't spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff. And and you know, and I think from, do you want to think about it, you know, maybe from an evolutionary point of view, in one sense it's like, well, how important is it for you to be right about abstract things as opposed to how, right. How important it is to be, you know, accepted, you know, by our group and get access to the resources of your group. I mean, it's pretty much a no brainer, you know, like, I mean, let's say I went around around my whole life and thought that earth was flat or something. It's like that really wouldn't affect, you know, the only thing, the only bad effect it would have in my life if people would, would, there would be a stigma associated with it, but it's like, it wouldn't affect really any of my, you know, sort of daily decisions, you know. So yeah, so, and I think a lot of moral issues, there are political issues.

Amber Cazzell (00:34:10):

Are you familiar with Peter DeScioli's work on like shared common knowledge and like moral judgment as as kind of a, essentially an ingroup outgroup signaling? Do you know what I'm talking about? That sounds familiar.

Stephen Vaisey (00:34:28):

That sounds familiar. I don't know. I don't know that name in conjunction with that.

Amber Cazzell (00:34:31):

Okay. Well I think, I mean, he and I are emailing, fingers crossed he's coming on. I know as somebody who tries, I'm sure I'm just as much of a hive mind does everybody else, but I try to think critically about issues. It's depressing to think that people just operate purely on who they happen to be friends with or like the circumstances of their sort of their social birth. Like what, what they're, what groups they grow up with. It's kind of depressing.

Stephen Vaisey (00:35:08):

Oh, it's totally depressing. I mean, yes, it is depressing. And you know, there's, there's something, there's an interesting, there's this book it just came out like a couple of weeks ago by Hugo Mercier about I can't remember the title of the book. I'm struggling on the titles today, but it's basically about how people aren't as gullible as people think. And I do think that's true. And so that, the interesting thing is to fit these two things together. They're like, how can it be that people views depend on their social groups they grew in and all this sort of stuff. On the one hand you know, where they happen to be born, you know, what class, religion, et cetera. And then on the other hand, you know, the idea that people are difficult to persuade, you know, and I can, because advertising isn't particularly effective. Political advertising isn't particularly effective.

Stephen Vaisey (00:35:57):

There's lots of research, to back, to back that up, but the the, how can the, both of those things be true. And I think it has a lot to do with that. This stuff gets baked in relatively early and so changing the best, that's essentially the conclusion that I've come to. I have a paper coming out. It just got accepted in the American sociological review with Kevin Kylie's one of my current students. And that this is a, this is, this is the sort of newest paper and people don't change. They die, you know you know, but but yeah, that's what I realized is that, you know, we don't study enough about, we need a developmental, essentially we need like a developmental, you know, moral science because the and not just like what is universal about it. Like we really do need to understand things like how do people come to have liberal or conservative dispositions, commitments, things like that.

Stephen Vaisey (00:36:52):

And I think, you know, if you follow the causal arrow back on most issues, there's very little evidence for adults changing their minds. And then for the most part when you're committing it to be, but you know, 25 or so, you're pretty much done cooking, you know from there, that's a little bit extreme. And I myself you know, you know, have experiences, you know, personal experiences that are against that. But for the most part, as a first approximation, if you're looking at a pattern, most of that action is done most. That action was done by the time persons in their in their mid twenties. So I think that's the kind of thing we have to reconcile. It's like, how can you be a skeptical consumer? But you know, what kind of skepticism because the people who are, you know, the people who are talking about, you know, the Corona virus being a man made and you know, they're, they think they're being skeptical of the sort of news media, you know, they're saying, Oh, this is a, you know, it's a, you know, some sort of super weapon type thing or whatever.

Stephen Vaisey (00:37:47):

And it's like, you know, people, you know, we're just not good at this. No, we're not. We're not, we're not good at being, I don't think we're very good at, at yeah, at disentangling this stuff because our own amendments get really involved. So it's, so it sound like we just swing with the breeze. Like if I, if I dropped you into the middle, I dunno if I took a liberal person, like you know, and I dropped them in the middle of you know, Kansas or something or our best example, I dropped them in the middle of a sort of rural Texas or rural North Carolina or something, you know, it's not like they would become conservative, you know, it's like, it's not, adults don't really work that way. So a lot of it is selection. A lot of it is that when I don't agree with someone, I stopped being friends with them.

Stephen Vaisey (00:38:32):

So we still do look at it. I mean this is from it. As a sociologist we think about these sorts of issues a lot, which is yeah, you have very similar views of your friends. But why is that? There are two reasons. One is that your friends might influence you. The second one is you meet people and if you don't have the same basic views them, you don't stay friends. And if you do have the same basic views as them, you do stay friends. And so when you look at a person and their social networks, are you like a person group they belong to, that's a product of the choices that they've made to sort of avoid you know, a particular kind of conflict. So a lot of them up, you know, I, I'm like I said, I'm kind of a [inaudible]. I've done a lot of different things, but some of the work that I've done also suggest that, you know, selection is at least as important as influence when it comes to, to sort of moral moral stuff.

Stephen Vaisey (00:39:19):

You know, that I want to associate with people who agree with me and I will take steps perhaps not consciously to associate with people who agree with me. And and that's, and so it's not so much influence is that, you know, I don't want to be influenced or I don't want to, you know, deal with the, the the difficulty of having people. Or it just might be, you just kind of, I don't think it's, I don't think it's in principle. I think it's just like, it's just uncomfortable. Like, why would you, you don't line up, people aren't gonna wanna hang out. People aren't comfortable make them uncomfortable. You know, whether that be for, you know, and there's tons of research about this in sociology about class differences, race differences, things like that where these subtle things, cultural capital, it may get easier for certain types of people to interact with each other that have consequences for inequality and things like that. And I'm sure that there is a ton of stuff that's like that in the political realm that we just haven't studied it as as much. Yeah. So

Amber Cazzell (00:40:14):

That's interesting. Yeah, that's all. I mean there's a lot in there that resonates with my personal experience. My husband and I had been talking about, we've been starting to call it knowledge blind spotting. Sometimes you're just like, you're, you hear these phrases or sentiments for so long, and you forget to like tear into your own, even though you're well equipped to tear apart somebody else's alternative views. But like even on just like simple things. Sometimes you can ask somebody a question as simple as defining what they mean by something and all of a sudden it's like their world is turned upside down because they realize, I mean, and this kind of goes back to the national study of youth and religion to things that are as central to a person's life as religion and they might truly be committed to it deeply but still not really know what they mean when they're using language and not. And the thing that's bizarre about it is that they don't seem to realize that they don't know.

Stephen Vaisey (00:41:19):

Yes, exactly. Oh yeah because it, cause who cares? I mean like for the most part, until somebody like us comes along and asks them like nosy questions, it's like most of the time people don't think about it. Like, you know, the main function of talking, I would say this to my students the main function of talking, is to get other people to nod. You know, like that's a lot of what we're doing. So we say like, God, let me see, you know, these goddamn liberals, you know, blah blah blah. It's like, you know, the real goal that's just to get people to be like, yeah, hell yeah. You know, to just sort of nod and just, you know, you achieve solidarity with the group. That's not, you know, it's hard for me to be too critical. But I mean I think a lot of the people who talk about this make it sound. I think, I guess if you've never, you know, you don't believe that human beings are that awesome to begin with in a way. I don't know. You know, it's not that far. Not that far to fall. And I just, you know, I think we deserve not, you know, we're fumbling around and I think we can learn stuff I'd say. I, we can learn stuff, but we're not that good at this.

Amber Cazzell (00:42:21):

I was over here laughing cause you're talking about how the function of talking is to get heads nodding and I'm over here nodding.

Stephen Vaisey (00:42:28):

Yeah. That's what always happens when I say that too. So yeah, it's a, yeah, it's, it's complicated. It'd be tough cause I think, you know, as a group we do, you know, things move I think in good directions over time. But just because science works for example, doesn't mean every scientific paper is right. You know what I mean? Like that's, that's the way I guess I think of it as it was like, you know, drifting in the right direction in the long run largely because, you know, because the world is there to push back and the world does give us signal, the world does give a signal. There are things you can try that aren't consistent with, you know, the way things work and stuff.

Amber Cazzell (00:43:03):

So I mean, so this is all like honestly just dropped a perfect transition in my lap to talk about your work with like shared moral or order. But, but, but before going there, one question that just keeps nagging at me, and this is backtracking a bit, is I was noticing as you were going through the four different kind of theories of how politics is tied to morality, you're like off Haidt and Schwartz theories. I was thinking like, it's interesting to me that it seems as though moral foundations theory is the one theory that doesn't suggest that these values are like opposed or in tension. And maybe that's not, maybe that's not a fair characterization, but like Schwartz, certainly I mean values around a circumplex and suggest that certain values are opposed to other values and it's like Hunter and Lakoff as well, saying different parenting styles are opposed. And I wonder like just what your thoughts are about, I mean, first of all, what your opinion as a researcher is as you've seen, whether or not these values do seem to be opposed in some way or if that is only opposed in this because of some of this hive of mind stuff we've been taught. And also, sorry, just one, cause you had mentioned it was actually really difficult to stab into and kind of tease apart how each of these measures related to one another and I wonder if that plays into it somehow.

Stephen Vaisey (00:44:33):

Yeah, no, I think that's a really, that's a really good question. I mean, I, I guess, I think if you look at, let me, let's stick some very simple in the first place, but just that if you look at shorts values, the way that that works, we think about how the data is actually collected with a portrait values question are usually these days is, you know, you get people like a little vignette about a person like, Oh, this person really likes to enjoy herself. She likes to spoil herself or something or whatever. It's like, that's not exactly right, but that's one of the sort of hedonism or you know questions and and then, you know, people say, Oh, this is not like me at all. A little bit like the, you know, up to, you know, very much like me.

Stephen Vaisey (00:45:13):

And so so the construction of the circumplex is achieved by subtracting off of exercising, by subtracting off all of the, the average score for each person. And that's a theoretical decision. And the theoretical decision is, you know, you can only, you only have so much time in the day when these things come into conflict with each other. Something has to give. You know, so that's the, that is the, that is the methodological choices that are baked in to the measurement of something like Schwartz values. Is, is, is that assumption. And I, and I think that my tendency is to think that that is correct actually, is that, and it may not be that there's just two dimensions of, of opposition or one dimension on which, you know, there's a, there's an important opposition. It could be, there are a few different dimensions of that are most salient.

Stephen Vaisey (00:46:03):

But I think with with so even if, for example you know, Haidt the sort of original Haidt version was right, that, you know, everybody is into, you know, sort of everybody believes in harm and fairness and then conservatives have these three other things. I mean, even if that was the case, what that would mean in practice is if you imagine like a legislature and in sort of the, you know, liberal legislature, there's, you know, 50 seats for harm, 50 seats, preparedness and, and the and the conservative legislature, there's 20 seats each for these five, you know, things. What that's going to mean in practice and a person's life is that there's sometimes going to choose things. Harm and fairness are sometimes going lose, like one of the, under someone's gonna lose a vote. And even though you know the representative just as much as the other ones you know, whenever you have other considerations that are in there, they're going to lose out sometimes.

Stephen Vaisey (00:46:49):

So I do think that in real life, you know, we can't always instantiate, you know, and I think this is, I think this is one of the deep wisdoms of of the Schwartz's values, things that there are times in your life when achievement and power comment, the expense of sort of you know, tradition, community you know, security. And that's just at one level that's irreducible tension is that so I guess I do. So I do actually, I, so I tend to agree with the idea that everything can be max, So Weber talked about Max Weber's is one of our sort of sociology Godfather's was you know, talking about this sort of polytheistic, you know, universe essentially that you can't please all the gods and he was thinking about values, ideas, you know, you have all these gods, you can't please them all at the same time. And I think that I, and I do think that's basically right.

Amber Cazzell (00:47:40):

It makes me also kind of imagine there with your analogy with the seats, like that inside out movie and now just wanting an inside out movie where there's like one of each of the five foundations.

Stephen Vaisey (00:47:53):

Not all foundations dude, that would be awesome. I would watch that. Thousands of people would watch that.

Amber Cazzell (00:48:01):

Oh yeah, I resonate with that. We need to talk to Disney now. I think Dacher Keltner was like, we should just like use him to see if he can, okay. So, so I want to now shift back to you with some of these ideas of the, of a shared moral order. So Steve has written a paper in the past about how about how a sense of community oftentimes boils down to a shared moral order. I'm going to like, I'm going to let you explain it so I'm not going to do it justice.

Stephen Vaisey (00:48:36):

No, it's, this is a funny story actually, behind this paper, cause I wrote this, this is the first paper I published in American sociological review and it was, I published the idea for this product actually came as a graduate student because I was on the grad student list or if, you know, at UNC where I did my PhD. And there was a lot of discussions about things like, Oh, you know, we need to have more parties. You know, the department feels really disconnected. We need to have more parties or more, you know, picnics or baseball games, whatever, you know, just kind of bring us together. And I always say that I'm thinking, you know, you know, those things are all good, but that's not the reason the department is, you know, is you know, having trouble, you know, with cohesion. And I think it's because everybody's just doing different stuff.

Stephen Vaisey (00:49:21):

Like people just don't agree on like what the basic idea is of science. They don't agree on what it is we're supposed to be doing. A sociologist, there were some tensions in the department over what kinds of research or more valuable than other kinds of research or things like that. And so so that got me thinking like how could you empirically study what causes people to have a sense of community? Like what causes people to feel like they belong to a community. And so at that time, this was again the early to mid two thousands. The paper came out in 2007, but it was early mid two thousands that the thing everybody was talking about was Robert Putnam's social capital social capital is something that just everybody was talking about. And so social capital is essentially argument for, you know, shared spaces, bring people together, you know, bowling leagues, you know, things like this to create a sense of solidarity and society.

Stephen Vaisey (00:50:15):

And that struck me as being just sort of implausible that, you know, just because people spend a lot of time together, they're in meetings together, they do things together that's not necessarily going to generate a sense of community. And so what I, I had heard of this data set that was collected. This is such an awesome data set. A lot of people use this now, but it was collected in the 1970s and it was a, it was a some sort of stratified probability sample of 60, it was the whole sample 60 communes in the United States in the 1970s. So communal, intentional community groups where people were trying to build a sense of community. They, you know, varied in size from like five or six up to, you know, I think the biggest ones were maybe 70, 80, a hundred, something like that.

Stephen Vaisey (00:50:57):

And and so this guy Ben Zablocki who was at Rutgers I think he's retired now. It was, you know, for many years this, he wrote this amazing book. If you have any interest in communes, it's just, oh my, it's such a good book. It's kind of hard to get now. But and what was it called, you know, batting about zero on titles. I think it's Alienation and Charisma. That's just probably, I'd always comes to the nation at charisma. It's a really, really, really good book. But it's, it's kinda quirky, but this is back when the NSF was funding basic social science. So this project was funded by the national science foundation and the 1970s. It's possible to imagine now, but so, so anyway, I had a, a guy that I knew John Levi Martin at the, he was at Wisconsin, I think at the time. He's at the University of Chicago now

Stephen Vaisey (00:51:44):

I had had some interactions with him over email and I knew he was the sort of custodian of the Ben Zablocki dataset of the urban communes. And so I said, Hey, you know, can I use this dataset? And, and so they, he packaged it up and sent it over because, you know, they were in the process of making it public. And so I, I had this dataset of, of communes and I had the variables I needed for about 50. And it was really interesting cause I contrasted a bunch of different potential explanations because there was so much data. So because they not only did surveys and everybody in the group, they did network stuff, they asked everybody about everybody else in the commune. They asked, ethnographers were sent to every commune that took notes and then those things were coded. And it was such a cool project.

Stephen Vaisey (00:52:28):

It's just hard to imagine anything that awesome being done that, but it's just so, so awesome. So, so we so, so I went through and coded everything up and essentially I was thinking about lots of different sort of competing explanations. Like, you know, is it the amount of sort of economic sharing? Is it the amount of time sharing? Is it about, you know, the sort of spatio-temporal, you know, interaction, I'm trying to think of the other ones. Or is it about like authority, like the organization of authority in the group, like are more, you know, authoritative groups or more democratic groups. Did they achieve more of a sense? And then the final one was the piece that people basically agree on what it is they're doing here. You know? So it was like how, how, how shared of a mission does the group have, you know, how I know how much consistency is there in the way that people think about what the purpose of this group is.

Stephen Vaisey (00:53:16):

Because some people, you know, it was like, well this, this is kind of a, they loved community for sort of its own sake. Or it was a crash pad or something like that. But it was, but so I wanted to say, I want to figure out, was it w did the groups where people had a high level of agreement about what the purpose of the commune was? And so to make a long story short, basically that just kind of blows away everything else that, you know, ultimately it was, it was about the, the, the, the sense of community that we feeling of the group is almost entirely a function of the amount of sort of consensus around what it is that they were trying to achieve. And the other things may have mattered a little or in a couple of cases actually they switched, signs became, became negative.

Stephen Vaisey (00:53:56):

And of course it was a very idiosyncratic, it was a very idiosyncratic dataset. But it's just such an interesting one. And and I just, I, I have continued to think about this and, and you know my Chris Smith has written, you know, a bit about shared moral orders and, you know, and I've definitely been influenced by, you know, some of the work of Charles Taylor, other people who've written about that, philosophers who've written about that sort of thing. So we don't have fantastic measures of, of, of that because we don't know what other people think, you know, so, so if I could change one thing about the data collection world and social science, I would, every time you couldn't do this. So this is if you ask, so every question you ask somebody else, every question you ask somebody say, okay, and what do you now, now let me ask you what you think.

Stephen Vaisey (00:54:42):

You know, the typical person in your country believes about that issue. You know what I mean? To try and get the, the, you know, the distinction between what you know and what you think other people know or what you believe and what you think other people believe. This were second order beliefs. I think are a huge part of why we do things that we do. And so because of the ethnographic work there, we were able to get a pretty good I was able to get a pretty good measure of that for the comments. But that's really what I'd like to know is how much do people think that they share? How much do they know if they share their beliefs in common with other people, you know, pluralistic ignorance you know, things like that. It's just so, yeah. So, so the idea of common knowledge, shared moral order, things like that, that's all really interesting to me.

Stephen Vaisey (00:55:21):

Theoretically, it's just really hard to study cause I'm not gonna allow all my students, like literally everyone of my students has done lab work. But I'm just too lazy. I dunno. For that it just, I mean, I, it sounds, I don't mean it to be like, Aw shucks, but it's really, I just don't I do my best and I'm just like, have some data and some ideas and I'm thinking about what's, what's going on. But my students have been much more rigorous about this. But that's the kind of thing that I would really like to, would really like to understand better. My, my current student, he just graduated, Josh Doyle will be a professor Purdue next year. He does a lot of for I'm thinking about sort of common knowledge and, and shared moral order, especially around environmentalism. So you know, like, so to take some examples from, you know, from the stuff that he's doing right now is thinking about, well, how, it doesn't matter if you think recycling is important, unless you think that other people also think it's important because if you just recycle or you, you know, it's not going to do it.

Stephen Vaisey (00:56:20):

That's really not going to do anything unless everybody does together. So if you, so even if everybody individually thinks that it's important, but everybody thinks everybody else thinks that it's not that important, then you're less likely to act on your own beliefs because you don't think that it's going to. So it, so there's a little bit of a game theory dilemma there and I think shared moral orders related to that. So,

Amber Cazzell (00:56:38):

Yeah. So how, I mean, when, as you've been thinking about, I mean, I'm sure you can't help but think about this research about a shared moral order. When you're looking at sort of the political atmosphere today, like, have you, have you gotten any inklings for new research ideas or observations that kind of stand out?

Stephen Vaisey (00:57:01):

Yeah, I mean, I think, I mean, I think what you're seeing, I mean, you know, I haven't written about this yet because I've been focused so much on sort of generational change and things, but I think one of the things that's happening now is that everybody believed that the norms were binding. So in that sense, like in our political discourse, everybody, there were certain things that just happen, that didn't happen. Not because they were against the rules because they just simply weren't done. You know? And I think what's happened is, and there isn't, there is a huge element of common knowledge to that, which is that everybody thinks everybody thinks this is going to keep happening the way that it is. And all it takes is, you know, some people are basically willing to completely disrupt that system. And I think that's the situation you have with Trump was that, you know you know, somebody just says, Hey, you know, I'm not gonna follow the rules at that.

Stephen Vaisey (00:57:46):

It turns out that we have a lot less moral order in common than we realized. And a lot of it was just based on sort of inertial norms. And and you know, I talked about this all the time with Chris Smith in graduate school. We, you know, we would get talking about you know, abstract things and there is a sense in which, you know, you have to wonder what is, you know, the way I was taught, where I was, what's the half life of the sort of on articulated commitment to democracy for example. Like I believe that people can continue to support democracy and support freedom and self expression and things like that, you know, out of habit. But, and I think maybe even for a long time, but you know, in the long run, if you don't have some sort of shared basis for that view, like the, you know, the, you know, people are all, you know, and, again, I'm not religious so this is not my own personal view, but that, you know, the idea that people are created in the image of God or something.

Stephen Vaisey (00:58:44):

If you don't have that view that's shared, you know, what's the basis, you know, people talking about like the declaration of human rights you know, and to me it's like, well, who cares? You know I don't personally believe that, but I wonder if that person is a skeptic and just comes along and says and here's what the UN was talking about in the 1960s or whatever. I think that there's, that's a problem is if you push, there's not, I don't think there is much you know, shared moral order on some of the political divisions that we have. I think there are about a lot of things, but the things that we're arguing about, what we're seeing now, it's just, it looks like a situation where where there's just not a lot of there's not a lot of shared. So what happens though is that it does come, it does come down to teams.

Stephen Vaisey (00:59:28):

You know, it does come down to the teams. So I don't think that even if everybody, you can get everybody to agree with things, I think you can get, you know, self-reliance is an important virtue. You know, everybody's going to agree to that. And that's pretty much true. Most people are gonna agree with that. The level of agreements can be quite high. But like what to do about that sort of thing has a lot to do with teams. It has a lot to do with what your team says. And I mean, and that's just, we can't spend, we're not, you know, we're not full time, you know, even though I'm, you know, I'm professor, yeah, I'm full time thinking about this stuff. I don't have time to spend all day thinking about what's my personal view on climate change. What's my personal view on charter schools? It's my personal view on it.

Stephen Vaisey (01:00:04):

I mean, that'd be impossible. Be totally impossible. So people do, it's not insane to use party as a heuristic or to use, you know, sort of like what team am I? I said, you're resting. But I mean, it does have disadvantages too. And it does mean that I think it's, you know, when these differences come up, it's harder to, harder to change themselves. Anyway, I'm just, that's just general interest stuff, but I you know, I run a lab at Chris Johnston who's a political scientist here at Duke. And I run a, we co run a lab that has, that's pretty much all sociologists and political scientists, but it's called the worldview lab at the Kenan super ethics. And these are the kind of issues that we are, are working on. People refer for funding.

Amber Cazzell (01:00:42):

Yeah. I'd love to hear just in these last couple minutes about what you're working on now with lab, what you're thinking about, what you're moving towards.

Stephen Vaisey (01:00:52):

Yeah. yeah, so the, so the world we lab is yeah, it's, it's a, it's a group of us. We're finding projects. We're looking at we're doing a couple of things. So I'll talk about a couple things real quick. First is we're trying to get funding for a project where we want to understand whether people's perceptions of other groups values are accurate. So so we want to see, and this has happened a little bit in the effect of polarization and literature and political science where, you know, you'll ask people questions like Doug Adler's work. You know, you ask people things like, okay, how, you know, what, how, what percentage of Republicans are no majority, $80,000 a year. You know, they'll, people, you know, Democrats will get, you know, 25%. It's like, of course it's not 25%. It's less than 1% because not that many people United States make that much money.

Stephen Vaisey (01:01:38):

But but anyway, it's probably 1%. But but anyway so we want to see to what extent, you know, correcting people's miss misapprehension of people's values might help reduce effective polarizations. That's one thing we're looking at. Another thing that I've mentioned a couple times already is that, you know, Kevin Kiley and I are working on models sort of theoretical and statistical of of political change over time, you know, and how to splitting change happen over time and looking at cohorts as sort of the primary driver of that. And then some of the interesting part are the exceptions. You know, you can see exceptions like one of the variables or one of the sort of sets of variables that doesn't behave like everything else over the, you know, over the sort of mid to late 2000, early 2010s period is gay rights.

Stephen Vaisey (01:02:28):

And you can really actually see some evidence of adults changing their minds. So I think there's a lot of what we talked about in that paper is this sort of a limited supply of salience to override the usual pattern. So, you know, the usual pattern is you learn stuff by the time you're 25, you're, you know, your opinions pretty much settled on it, you know and that's, that's how it is. But there's a limited amount of sort of social salience that you can get people to pay attention to it. You can get adults to change their minds on that topic. But that's like a very, very, very unusual pattern, really doesn't happen very much. And then so that's that. There's one more thing I was going to say that I don't remember what that, so the, the, the idea of, you know, people not changing is, is a big part of it.

Stephen Vaisey (01:03:10):

And then finally, the real issue that we want to, to move into the future. And this is something that Chris Johnston and I talked about all the time, is and neither one of us has a tremendous amount of experience with this, but all the work we're doing really suggests that we need to push the study of political socialization, cultural socialization, like back into adolescence and childhood, because that's got to be where it's so, so, so, so we, we're only talking about this now and we'll see if we ever do it, but we really need to do is we really need to start with a group of like, you know, six to 10 year olds and just follow them for like 30 years. I mean, like really, I mean, and we couldn't do it. We're both at a stage and aren't, you know, like I'm 43.

Stephen Vaisey (01:03:50):

I don't know, like he's younger than I am, but you know, I could conceivably do this forever, you know, for 25, 30 years. I think it would be the right thing to do. But it's just a, you know, it's sometimes hard to get motivated for that, you know, that kind of project, but I or to get somebody to pay for it. But I think that given all the stuff that we're learning, like this has to happen somewhere. It has to, and I don't think it's, you know, it's sort of baked in biological differences. I, you know, that's not persuasive. I'm thinking, obviously people have tendencies, you know psychological tendencies and things like that. And so I think there's certainly some genetic component to those. But, you know, it's not just, you know, certainly people coming out and being like, Oh, well, you know, this person was born in liberal on this person was born a conservative.

Stephen Vaisey (01:04:31):

I don't see that at all. So, so somehow somewhere this stuff's getting learned, right? It is. We, and we really need to look, you know, even looking at young people, young adults, like 16 to 24 or something like that, that's it's too late. You know, like you can see how things get mobilized. You can see a political interest develops, you know, there's certain things you can see, but like a lot of those early experiences, I think I've got to be a big part of the story. So that's hopefully where we'll, we'll you know, move in the next three to five years, so, yeah.

Amber Cazzell (01:05:02):

Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Steve. We covered a lot of different things.

Stephen Vaisey (01:05:12):

Cool. Well, thank you very much for having me and I look forward to listening to your other discussions.


bottom of page