Distinguished Lecture Series in Psychology

Thursday, February 13, 2020 3:30pm

Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center

lecture by Peter Ditto February 13, 2020, in Monsanto Auditorium

"The Illusion of Public Reason"
by Peter Ditto
Professor of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine

Abstract: Morality is something we feel more than think. In this talk, Ditto presents evidence that the differing moral intuitions of liberals and conservatives shape their reasoning in ways that lead them to see their own moral vision as principled, logical, and effective, and the other side’s vision as hypocritical, illogical, and counterproductive. Motivated reasoning cloaks moral conflict in a veneer of public reason such that politicians and pundits make data-based arguments for preferred policy positions that are little more than moral justifications wrapped in factual clothing. This tendency for people to confuse what they value with what they believe to be true is a key contributor to the corrosive political polarization that plagues contemporary American politics.

Bio: Peter Ditto is a professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine. He received his bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1982 and his doctorate from Princeton University in 1986, both in psychology. Ditto is a social psychologist whose expertise is in human judgment and decision making. His research focuses on “hot cognition”—how our motivations and emotions shape (and often bias) our social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgments. His current research is focused on the moral and psychological underpinnings of the culture war in contemporary American politics.