Confusing Evaluativism with Sexism

Navy womenOver the past few years, the U.S. Navy has been sending women a recruitment mailer promising, “you can do all this while staying in touch with your feminine side — and while bettering your world along the way.” It was sent to women in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. But last week the mailer was scrapped over concerns that it perpetuates sexist stereotypes.

The stereotype, of course, is that all women have a not-expected-in-the-military side that men don’t. Rather than reserve the word “feminine” to refer to women, the brochure used it to refer to an evaluative disposition. Then women not of that disposition asked, “Am I not feminine?”

The Navy obviously intended a very inclusive message. They were not the first to use the word “feminine” in a way that allows for the possibility of feminine men. On GRINfree.com, we use the term “naturally relational” instead. Base on the sample used to validate the GRIN Self-Quiz, naturally relational people are twice as likely to be female as male, however, not all are female, and not all females are naturally relational. In fact, there were women of every type, over 60% of women being not naturally relational.

One might like to administer the GRIN-SQ in the military to confirm whether naturally relational people are relatively rare there. The purpose would not be to find a more precise word than “feminine” to use in recruiting—most potential recruits have never heard the term “naturally relational.” Rather, the purpose would be to balance its diversity the way ecologists balance diversity in an ecosystem.

The most adaptive teams include all four GRIN types. A society lacking naturally relational people, specifically, would experience reduced network localization, which essentially means command would be more centralized. An error in such a network can have broad consequences; in contrast, an error in a free market would take-down no more than one business, and competitors would quickly fill the gap.

Jared Diamond famously speculated that centralized command cost China dominion over the Americas. Two hundred years before Christopher Columbus’ voyage, China had an entire fleet of ships capable of crossing the Pacific, but they were all under the control of one emperor, and that emperor decided to destroy the entire fleet. Columbus was turned-down by many countries before he found a patron for his expedition—in Asia, he would have had only one potential patron, so he would have had only one chance.

Our military is an important part of our society. We will be at a loss if it lacks one of the kinds of people it needs to successfully innovate solutions to conflict and to its own evolution. Kudos to those who were smart enough to target for recruitment people who have been called “feminine.” I look forward to the day when common language includes terms which make this message easier to communicate.

Teamology: Evaluative Diversity Promotes Success

Teamology: The Construction and Organization of Effective Teams“Teamology” is the name of a new branch of science somewhere between psychology and sociology. It studies teams and what makes them successful. This seems like an important new science, given that the impact of evolution on the human genome has been increasing and optimizing the success of competing teams rather than of individuals. However, experiments turn out to be logistically far more difficult to conduct in teamology than in psychology. All of the research mentioned in Douglass Wilde’s Teamology: The Construction and Organization of Effective Teams relied on the power of professors to make guinea-pigs out of students (Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford, Loyola U of Los Angeles, Oregon State, Shanghai Jiao-Tong, Sungkyunkwan U., U.C. Berkley, U.C. San Diego, U. of Florida, and U.T. Austin)

Teamological evidence is crucial to management of evaluative diversity because the reasons to protect evaluative diversity are:

  1. Love: For the sake of our children and grandchildren who are likely to be diverse
  2. Religious: For the sake of the One who created diversity
  3. Selfish: For our own sake, believing that we are part of teams which need evaluative diversity (as ecosystems need biodiversity)

The first two motives assume merely that we have diverse predispositions, a hypothesis which is well-confirmed by a wide range of experiments as detailed in Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences. The third motive additionally assumes that diverse teams are more likely to succeed. Teamology is the only field in which experiments can confirm or reject that hypothesis (or tell us which kinds of diversity are beneficial when).

There is strong theoretical reason to expect team success to rely on evaluative diversity. GRIN-diversity reflects specialization in mitigating distinct factors which limit rate of adaptation:

  • Gadfly to increase the rate at which novel configurations are produced
  • Relational to increase network localization through subjective evaluation
  • Institutional to increase fidelity with which proven configurations are reproduced
  • Negotiator to increase selection pressure privileging better configurations

If it turns out that GRIN-diversity does not maximize rate of adaptation, then there must be something wrong with our theory of evolution. One test of the GRIN model involves comparing the success of computer systems with different GRIN-diversity. Computers with a dearth of any GRIN-type fail just like any machine missing one of its essential parts. Having found that confirmation in machines, it makes sense to compare the success of human teams with varying GRIN-diversity.

Evaluative Diversity in Human Teams

Douglass Wilde taught engineering at Stanford University. Each year, his students would work in teams to produce reports which would be entered into competition against each other and against teams from other universities. Teamology presents the method Wilde developed to form and organize winning teams. The method was tested over the course of decades and at U.C. San Diego, U. of Florida, and Jiao Da (Shanghai).

Wilde’s method essentially involved:

  1. Measuring students’ evaluative types,
  2. Dividing into teams so as to maximize evaluative diversity, and
  3. Assigning roles within each team to match measured types.

Wilde’s research was conducted before there was any way to measure GRIN-types. His assignment algorithm used a survey of preferences along Jungian dimensions: Introversion (I) vs. Extroversion (E), Structure (J) vs. Flexibility (P), Facts (S) vs. Possibilities (N), and Objects (T) vs. People (F). Here are Wilde’s formulas to transform those measures into preferences for eight roles:

Wilde formulas

Wilde reports that about 25% of Stanford teams won awards when self-selected, but about 75% won awards when formed by this method. Replication studies found similar results, though they measured success differently and also found that diverse teams “took longer to coalesce” than randomly formed teams did.

How Many Types?

Jungian personality theory disagrees with the Big Five model on the question of traits vs. types. Size is an example of a trait, while sex is an example of a type. We often point-out that types are of discrete categories, while traits fall along continuous scales, but in the context of teamology it may be more important to note that stable types are interdependent, while traits are not. For example, a human society could thrive in certain environments without any especially large members, but could not thrive in any environment without any females (or males).

Interdependency impacts the ideal number of individuals per team. For example, since bees have three sexes, their “families” should be larger than in species with fewer sexes. In contrast, diversity in traits is valuable only to accommodate diversity of situations, so diversity in traits will afford a team no advantage over the best possible individual when the situation is stable or when the individual can adjust his/her traits to match the situation. If adjustment is not feasible, a team of just two polar-opposite members could have full diversity in traits. Thus, if traits were the only source of valuable diversity, then teamology wouldn’t be so important (at least beyond pairs).

Jung’s theory predicts at least eight types and no traits, but the statistical characteristics of measures of Jung dimensions look like traits rather than types. The Big Five model predicts all traits and no types. Truth is probably somewhere in the middle—some traits and some types. The GRIN-SQ produces the statistics to prove that at least four types exist. One might wonder whether teamology could be used to further increase the number of types proven to exist.

The studies Wilde cited involved teams of three to five members each, so they could not possibly have demonstrated the interdependence of more types. If they balanced types, those types might best be called S, N, T and F, since those variables are doubled in his formulas. In the data Wilde provided from his 2006 class, of the 13 students assigned to fill multiple roles, 92% were assigned to be both P and J and 69% were assigned to be both E and I, so any specialization would have been on other dimensions. As implied by the diagram above, the typical team had one member with primary specialization in each quadrant (though some students were also assigned to serve as back-up for other quadrants).

The experiments described in Teamology compared teams formed by Wilde’s method to teams formed randomly or though pure self-selection. It would be far more instructive to compare to teams with all but one type, so that one might identify specific types which make a difference (and perhaps characterize the difference each makes). Wilde initially doubled team performance merely by assigning the students with highest MBTI-Creativity Index (T+2E+2P+6N) to separate teams (leaving no black-hole of gadflydom), but tripled performance relative to self-selection by separating the highest scorers in all eight roles. The difference between these experiments does imply that creativity diversity isn’t the only kind that matters, but specifically what else matters remains to be measured.

Separation of Powers

The reason why the diagram above divides the roles on the left against the roles on the right is that Wilde’s scoring formulas mathematically make those on the left equal to the negative of those on the right. For example, even if a student’s two most preferred roles really were Tester/Prototyper (E+P+2S) and Visionary/Strategist (I+J+2N), the results of Wilde’s preference measure could not possibly reflect that reality. They sum to zero, so at least one is guaranteed to be zero or negative. That is a consequence of the assumption that diversity is structured around dimensions.

It would not be surprising that  the person responsible for devising visions should like to be the person with the power to decide whether those visions are good nor that the person responsible for empathizing should like to be the person with the power to interpret policies (and thus to show mercy). However the danger in mixing such roles is rather obvious—we might call it “conflict of interest”—so we can appreciate the separation of powers forced by Wilde’s method. Wilde’s claim that Visionaries should not be the Testers sounds reasonable (and is supported by his research), but this might have nothing to do with preference.

Are Teams With Greater GRIN-Diversity More Successful?

In theory, the S, N, T and F roles sound like the four GRIN-types:

  1. The S roles include “Tester”, “Investigator” and “Inspector” which match the Negotiator specialization in selection
  2. The N roles include “Innovator”, “Entrepreneur” and “Visionary” which match the Gadfly specialization in generating novelty
  3. Wilde’s measure for T associates it with “logic”, “truthful”, “unaccommodating”, “intolerant” and “impartial” all of which match the Institutional specialization in fidelity.
  4. F would be Relational by process of elimination. Specialization in network localization is undermined in Wilde’s experiments because the structure of students’ social networks is designed and enforced by the experimenter. However, students would be accustomed to social processes developed for groups formed more naturally, so a team lacking relational evaluators would have the handicap of needing to engineer new social processes (e.g. radically new ways to resolve conflicts). Thus, a Relational member might be valuable even in engineered teams.

Empirical comparison of measures confirms that teams formed by Wilde’s method would have greater GRIN-diversity than teams formed at random. N correlates strongly with the Big-Five dimension of “Openness” which is significantly related to Gadfly evaluation. F correlates moderately with the Big-Five dimension of “Agreeableness” which is significantly related to Relational evaluation. Thus, teams formed by Wilde’s method are likely to include one natural gadfly, one naturally relational person, and two people of other GRIN type(s).

Yes, the more successful teams do have greater GRIN-diversity. Again the GRIN model is supported.

But what we really want to know is in which circumstances any of the four GRIN-types might not promote success. To measure that, we would need to compare teams with each type deficiency (and with none) in different circumstances, and it would be better to use direct measures of GRIN-type than to use Jung-types as a proxy. Also, instead of imposing team structure, it would be better to let people form (and re-form) their own teams, and teams-within-teams (unless people segregate so much that they offer no opportunity to observe naturally formed diverse teams). There is much research yet to conduct.

Engaging Conflict

On March 18, Greg Carpenter and Chris Santos-Lang will present a workshop titled “Engaging Conflict” for the Wisconsin United Methodist Church Laity Convocation. Click the image below to see the slides:

engaging conflict

Greg and Chris will speak about resources to help churches with existing conflicts, but emphasize resources churches can use proactively to keep conflict from becoming destructive in the first place. For example, churches can build humility by:

  • Spreading Teachings which reveal the weaknesses of each type,
  • Listening to people different from oneself (use the GRIN model to discover/articulate differences)
  • Monitoring shifts in diversity and support for it

Chris will discuss the Books reviewed on this site. The following articles on this website are also relevant to the workshop:

People who want to help address evaluativism should be sure to contact Chris.

Why am I being punished?

If it’s not my job to be right…

…then why am I being punished for not doing the right thing?

Why am I in prison?
Why was I fired?
Why did my loved ones leave me?
Why do I have to pay?

Our video about evaluativism suggests that the first practical step to overcoming evaluativism is to believe that it is not your job to be right—rather, it is your job to be yourself. It says that people who aim to be right more and more often are aiming to be God, that we should instead be like lawyers in a courtroom, serving the cause of truth by sticking to our assigned opposing perspectives, knowing full-well that at least half of the opposing perspectives must be wrong in some way.

So, let’s suppose you were serving the cause of truth by sticking to your assigned perspective, it turns out that you were wrong, and now you are being punished… Should you become someone else?

The Prevalence of Punishment

First, let’s acknowledge how often punishment happens. Roughly 1.4 percent of men (5 percent of black men) and 0.1 percent of women in the U.S. are currently incarcerated. If we include probation and parole, the numbers multiply by four (about 6 percent of all men). Roughly 14 percent of working age men in the U.S. have been convicted of a felony at some point in their past, and over half of all men in the U.S. will be arrested at some point in their lives.

That is not to say that women are less likely to face punishment. If we define punishment to include any suffering imposed by one person on another, then we realize that most punishment is not imposed by legal authorities. Other countries currently host thirty-seven ongoing military conflicts, each large enough to kill over 100 people per year. Meanwhile, over 35 million people currently live in slavery, and 22,000 children die every day from poverty. Our planet currently produces enough food to nourish every single one of us, so it is perfectly reasonable for the victims of all of these atrocities to wonder, “Why am I being punished?” That question may arise just as often to women, and in countries where incarceration occurs less.

Back in the U.S., 85 percent of romantic relationships will end in a break-up, and the median employment tenure is just 4.7 years for men and 4.5 years for women. Even if you call it “amicable separation,” every ended relationship is an instance of punishment where one party maintains, “You are not behaving correctly (at least not for me).” Instead of finding ways to leverage the diversity implied by our disagreements, people are believing that we are supposed to agree, that we are supposed to converge on the same values even when our physiological differences predispose us towards opposition. We punish each other for failing to meet this unrealistic expectation.

These statistics describe just the tip of the iceberg. Punishment begins long before physical separation. It begins with apathy. Only about a third of U.S. employees are currently considered “engaged” in their jobs. The other two thirds of us are either feeling punished or punishing our employers. Many relationships with loved ones are similarly on-the-rocks, as are relationships between citizens and their government. We might not be hosting ongoing military conflicts in the U.S., but we are still a besieged nation. Punishment is happening all around us every day, even if most of us are not physically in a prison.

So, if you are feeling punished, then you are not alone. Given the prevalence of punishment, it doesn’t make sense to take it personally. The best explanation for why punishment is so widespread is that we, as a society, are not very good at dealing with each other. That is a social problem—not your personal fault.

Here’s the good news: Just as you wonder, Why am I being punished? cavemen used to wonder, Why do I have fleas? As a society advances, both questions become asked less and less often. We’re just slower at ridding ourselves of punishment.

Social Reform

Even if punishment is just an infestation not yet fully stamped-out in modern society, those of us who are being punished will still wonder, What should I do about it? Should I change?

The effect of punishment had better not be to reform the person being punished. If the person being punished simply made an error, then the solution is education rather than punishment. On the other hand, if the conflict being resolved did not result from error—if it instead resulted from differences in physiological predisposition—then to reform the perpetrator would decrease opposition, thus reducing diversity and handicapping society.

Rather than reform convicts, the effect of punishment should be to reform society. Punishment enables social reform by providing separation and shifting resources. Convicts pay the price to make social reform possible. That’s really unfair. Society owes a debt to individuals who suffer punishment, and we should repay that debt by accelerating the social reforms their punishments fund. This is obvious regarding punishment of the innocent, as in the stories of Socrates and Jesus of Nazarath, but is equally true when punishing the guilty.

For example, suppose a child becomes addicted to a drug: Although we confine the child to rehab to address the immediate danger, we ultimately must reform society so that it does not provide children with access to such drugs. A bored child is sent to her room for getting into mischief, but we ultimately need to reform society (perhaps a dysfunctional family or classroom) so that the child stops being bored. A debtor loses his home so a bank can stay in business, but we ultimately need to reduce the ability of sellers to convince consumers to make inappropriate purchases.

Why is it that half of the people who are released from prison return within three years? It is because society is not reforming fast enough. Imagine a man who pays a mechanic to fix his car. When he returns, the car still doesn’t work and the mechanic asks for more money. “I payed the price,” the owner demands, “You said it couldn’t be fixed while the peace was being disturbed, so I stayed away. I gave years of my life in a prison. Was that for nothing?” We should be ashamed to ask that man to pay the price a second or third time.

At one time, it seemed reasonable to blame crime on individuals, but the big insight about evaluative diversity is that no individual is complete—we are best as parts of something larger, something diverse. No one is righteous when the stability of their lifestyle relies on punishing the other parts of that something larger.

Privacy and the Threat of Punishment

One of the GRIN types, natural negotiator, has a special relationship with the threat of punishment. Natural negotiators are achievers, so they are empowered by a shift towards capitalistic systems in which they can compete; however, competition is empowering only if everyone plays by fair rules. Thus, negotiators want there to be enough fear of punishment to dissuade their competitors from breaking the rules. If the governments we construct make rule-breaking the best strategy for getting ahead, then we are systematically oppressing natural negotiators. Therefore, we need to take punishment seriously.

The point of punishment, from the perspective of the negotiator, is not to get revenge, but rather to reduce calculated future crimes. In other words, the punishment is not directed at the person being punished; it is directed at people who have not yet committed the crime. Again, the goal is not to reform the convict, but rather the goal is to reform society, to scare everyone else into not committing crimes. The best way to figure-out when punishment would discourage future crimes would be to ask a jury of peers, and that is what we do.

On the one hand, such juries need to make sure the punishment is not too mild. If the crime can be leveraged to make billions on the stock-market, then the risk of spending ten years in jail might not be enough to dissuade the crime. Even if a convict is reformed, it could be a mistake to release him/her early because that release could encourage a different person to commit a crime (expecting a similar chance at early release). When we view punishment as a threat, it would be wasteful not to make it harsh.

On the other hand, if punishment is so frequent that it seems inescapable, then people will figure they might as well commit the crime. Therefore we cannot punish every hurtful act. We also have to be very careful about discrimination: if black men, or Muslims, or psychopaths are highly likely to get punished, then the punishment system may encourage them to be criminal. To make punishment work as a deterrent against future crime, we must collect strong evidence, so that the innocent can expect to avoid punishment even if they happen to fit a certain profile.

Collecting strong evidence requires reducing privacy. Partly that is about ubiquitous cameras, but its also about getting inside people’s heads because we need to know their motives. When we use punishment to deter crime we are punishing a motive—we are punishing someone for expecting to be able to get away it. That insight inspired the movie Minority Report in which privacy is so far gone that people could be punished even before the crime was committed.

Minority Report was onto something, but rather than punish the person, we should reform society. For example, if we know that Jack thinks he can get way with robbing the local convenience store, rather than punish Jack, we can improve the security system of the local convenience store (and make sure Jack knows about it). It doesn’t seem like a violation of privacy when the knowledge is used merely to identify security holes. That is where we are headed: a world that doesn’t need punishment to deter fowl-play.

Conclusion

We have told you that it is not your job to be right—rather it is your job to be yourself. Yet such behavior seems idealistic in a world filled with punishment. Interracial friendships likewise seemed idealistic in a world filled with racial slavery. Some people currently think punishment is unavoidable just like people used to think racial slavery was unavoidable, so being yourself can be an act of courage and faith.

If a natural negotiator is punished for trying to profit, should they stop trying to profit? No. Do not be reformed. It is the rules of profit that should be reformed.

If a naturally institutional person is punished for following their religion, should they stop following it? No. Do not be reformed. It is the religions that need to reconcile.

If a natural gadfly is punished for thirsting so much for change that they frustrate others, should they stop thirsting for change? No. Do not be reformed. Society should embrace progress so fully that gadflies are too busy facilitating change to waste time frustrating the establishment.

If a naturally relational person is punished for protecting their loved-ones, should they stop loving? No. Do not be reformed. The problem with love is that not everyone is loved enough.

It might not be right to try to profit, to follow a religion, to thirst for change, or to protect loved ones. Any of these activities can be wrong. But it is not your job to be right—it is your job to be yourself.

The short answer to the question, “Why am I being punished?” is that you are part of something larger, and you are serving that something larger by taking the hit. It is not fair, and should happen less and less often. In an ideal world, people would never do anything that would justify punishment—the only place it would be useful to talk about guilt and innocence would be in a history class. We are moving closer to that ideal world. In the meanwhile, you may be guilty, but the blame falls on all of us for not moving to the ideal world sooner.

Moral Diversity vs. Evaluative Diversity

The Righteous MindIn his most recent book, The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, Jonathan Haidt (pronounced like “height”) reminds the reader at various points that he is telling his story in a roundabout way because typical readers would reject straight-up truth. The first four chapters are devoted to evidence that the average non-psychopath is irrational, able to learn truth only “in love” (as Ephesians 4:15 puts it). The Righteous Mind debuted at #6 on the New York Times best seller list for nonfiction hardcover, so, if you find it difficult to believe the claims in the summary below, you might want to try the roundabout version instead.

The Purpose of Division

Why are good people divided? Haidt devoted an entire chapter to defend the theory of group selection which entails that diversity will evolve if diversification is advantageous for groups. On page 365, Haidt summarized his conclusions about this advantage:

I suggested that liberals and conservatives are like yin and yang—both are “necessary elements of a healthy state of political life,” as John Stuart Mill put it.

In a similar way, bone cells and muscle cells are both necessary to the functioning of the human body, and it is for the good of the body that its cells divide and specialize.

To test the theory that diversification is advantageous for groups, one would want to compare the success of groups with different levels of diversity. Such evidence was collected by Douglas Wilde, a professor of design at Stanford University. His students divided into teams to develop designs submitted to intercollegiate competitions which were judged by blind-review. In some years, Wilde allowed students to form their own teams; in other years he forced them to team up with people who tended to think differently. Wilde, and the design professors who replicated this experiment at other colleges, found that forcing teams to be evaluatively diverse increased both internal conflict and win rates.

Instead of citing the research by the design professors, Haidt cited the research of Richard Sosis who found that the average religious commune founded in the nineteenth century United States was six times as likely as the average secular one to last over 20 years. Again, the research compared the success of different groups, but Sosis’ measure of success was longevity, while Wilde’s measure of success was win rate. Wilde’s measure would be irrelevant if we encountered a society that could survive well-enough with poor designs (i.e. had no competitors or environmental disasters pending to require rapid improvement of social designs).

The problem with Sosis’ research is that he did not manipulate or measure diversity. It is debatable whether the religious communes were more or less diverse than the secular ones. Communes are intrinsically anti-conservative—they are rebellions against the status-quo—yet religious communes have a commitment to norms. Thus, religious communes might be more likely to attract both liberals and conservatives, and it makes sense to expect them to be more diverse. Some of the greatest religious role-models created new norms while rebelling against the norms of their day (e.g. Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Confucius), yet Haidt offers an explanation which implies that religious communes would be less diverse (pg 342):

A commune that valued self-expression over conformity and that prized the virtue of tolerance over loyalty… would have lower moral capital than a commune that valued conformity and loyalty. The stricter commune would be better able to suppress or regulate selfishness, and would therefore be more likely to endure.

In Wilde’s research, the superior teams had heightened internal conflict, but Haidt’s explanation of Sosis’ research implies that we should expect the opposite. This may just be an example of Haidt trying to tell the story in a roundabout way. The bottom line is that Sosis’ research would need to be repeated with actual measures of diversity. Until then, we have Wilde’s results to support Haidt’s final conclusion that diversity is advantageous.

Proximate Causes of Division

From an evolutionary perspective, one could say that the cells of our bodies specialize into diverse types because this brings advantages to the body as a whole, but it is also correct to say that cells specialize because they are genetically programmed to do so. Genes are a proximate cause. In a similar way, while Haidt points to group-selection as the ultimate cause of division, he also points to research indicating that genetic and physiological differences (products of evolution) predispose us to disagree with one another.

After summarizing some of the research described in greater detail in John Hibbing and Kevin Smith’s Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences, Haidt attempts to navigate the controversial issue of how our natures interact with nurture. This comes to a head in the recounting of Keith Richards’ testimony that he became a liberal when he was betrayed by the choir master of his school (pg 330):

Richards may have been predisposed by his personality [and genes] to become a liberal, but his politics were not predestined. Had his teachers treated him differently… he could have ended up in a more conventional job surrounded by conservative colleagues and sharing their moral matrix.

Of course a sufficiently controlled environment can manipulate the typical person into developing values contrary to his/her own genetic predisposition. Haidt also mentions that sufficiently controlled environments can flip a switch he calls the “hive switch” to shift a person’s values temporarily. He discusses oxytocin regulation, but dopamine regulation and ego depletion would be other such switches. However, Haidt stops short of discussing what the costs of manipulating people’s values might be.

Assuming one were to manipulate an environment to promote conservativism, it would see a decline in liberalism. If this sufficiently unbalances the society, then, according to the theory Haidt quoted from John Stuart Mill, it would collapse like an unbalanced ecosystem. That is one example of a cost. It is a cost to the group.

But we should also consider the consequences for an individual like Keith Richards. How would he like to have values contrary to his predispositions? Would he be frustrated like a short basketball player, a gay person in a heterosexual marriage, or someone with high IQ who cannot access the Intenet? Keith Richards is the lead guitarist of The Rolling Stones—it is difficult to imagine him being so successful in that role without genes predisposing him against conservativism—how would it have felt not to exercise those genes? Here’s one theory:

Theory #1: In more tolerant environments, people are more likely to hold values which align with their genetic predispositions and those who have such alignment experience better mental well-being (e.g. greater engagement in their career, family and community, and less depression, apathy, guilt, and desire to commit suicide).

To test this theory, psychologists would measure the values, predispositions and mental-well-being of people in environments with different levels of evaluativism. The benefits of this research could be huge: if it confirms the theory above, we could use it to improve mental well-being for our children and grandchildren. Most of the people with jobs today are not happy with their jobs, and our own lives might not be so bleak if our grandparents had conducted this research. So we have to ask, “Why have no psychologists tested this theory?”

Haidt’s subtitle “Why good people are divided by politics and religion” seems to ask about the causes of intolerance. If it turns out that intolerance has such significantly negative health consequences, that discovering them would motivate us to be more tolerant, then it is fair to say we are intolerant because psychologists have not measured those consequences. Psychologists have determined that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and that gay youth facing anti-gay environments are more likely to attempt suicide, but this just a beginning to measuring the consequences of intolerance. Homophobia isn’t the only form of discrimination, and mental distress includes more than just suicide.

A 2014 study by Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood found that 80% of us, if asked to judge a scholarship competition, would discriminate against applicants with opposing values. That kind of discrimination is called “evaluativism” and the researchers offer every reason to believe it is pervasive, producing every manner of frustration. For the 13 years previous to that study, the only major study comparing kinds of discrimination was Haidt’s own study with Evan Rosenberg and Holly Hom. They found that people discriminate far more on the basis of values than on the basis of demographic differences, such as race, class and religion. His conclusion, in 2001, was that values diversity (which they called “moral diversity”) creates so much discrimination that it must be a bad kind of diversity.

In The Righteous Mind Haidt cited his 2001 study only in a footnote to his recommendation about how to make a team, company, school or other organization more “hivish, happy and productive” (pg 277):

Increase similarity, not diversity. To make a human hive, you want to make everyone feel like a family. So don’t call attention to the racial and ethnic differences; make them less relevant by ramping up similarity and celebrating the group’s shared values and common identity.

Again, Haidt implies that our aim should be to minimize internal conflict. As Haidt would predict, in years when Wilde didn’t draw attention to evaluative diversity, his students self-segregated and experienced less internal conflict. But the hivishness and happiness did not improve production; the consequence of self-segregation was inferior designs. Furthermore, if we do not raise awareness of evaluativism in awarding scholarships (and presumably jobs as well), Iyengar and Westwood’s research indicates the awards will be significantly and systematically biased. Aiming to minimize conflict is short-sighted.

Perhaps the worst tragedy to come from ignoring differences is implied by a 2009 twin study by Peter Hatemi, Carolyn Funk, Sarah Medland, Hermine Maes, Judy Silberg, Nicholas Martin, and Lindon Eaves which found that people’s values are less likely to align with their genetic predispositions while they remain in their parent’s homes. This does not indicate intentional discriminationparents are unaware of evaluative differencesyet even accidentally preventing one’s child from aligning with his/her genetic predispositions could diminish his/her mental well-being. What parent would want to remain ignorant of differences, if accepting those differences could save their child from wishing he/she were dead?

Again, the truth is so harsh that one can understand why Haidt might want to soften the blow. Would you believe a psychologist who told you that our failure to understand differences has made normal parenting is so oppressive that getting away from parents faster could save children from wanting to commit suicide?

Moral Diversity vs. Evaluative Diversity

Aside from his 2001 study, Haidt’s most important experiment may have been the development of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) which measures peoples beliefs that morality is about each of the following six values: Liberty/oppression, Fairness/cheating, Care/harm, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation.

This research created a stir because moral psychology was previously dominated by the theory that there is one best moral type. As it turns out, people who rate themselves as politically conservative tend to consider all six values in their definition of “morality,” whereas people who rate themselves politically liberal tend to emphasize Care/harm and discount the last three values, and people who rate themselves as libertarians tend to emphasize Liberty/oppression and discount the last four values. Thus, the MFQ demonstrates that political types are moral types. Since it is unacceptable to conclude that one political type is better than the others, the dominant theory moral psychology was overturned.

In chapter 8, Haidt admits that his list of values might not be complete; in fact, one of the six values was not on the original list, so it has already been revised once. Given what we know about GRIN types, one might think the next revision should be to add “Originality/orthodoxy” and “Effectiveness/ inefficiency.” While some people do value original ideas and effective strategies, it is debatable whether the value qualify as “moral.” For example, the debate over whether the ends justify the means may be seen as a debate over whether Effectiveness is a moral value.

As part of his roundabout story-telling, Haidt saves his own definitions of morality and moral capital until the last two chapters:

Moral capital refers to the degree to which a community possesses interlocking sets of value, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, and technologies that mesh well with evolved psychological mechanisms and thereby enable the community to suppress or regulate selfishness and make cooperation possible.

The values of Originality and Effectiveness do not necessarily suppress selfishness, so they would not qualify as “moral” values by this definition. They would probably qualify, however, under Ayn Rand’s definition of “moral.” Does Haidt have a scientific basis for dismissing Rand’s perspective? Haidt admits that Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity do not qualify as “moral” by liberal definitionsdoes he have a scientific basis for dismissing the liberal perspective as well? To the contrary, Haidt concludes that the diverse perspectives are interdependent, so he is painted into a corner.

Haidt describes himself as a liberal who wants to understand conservatives on their own terms, so it makes sense that he would accept a conservative definition of “morality,” and it makes sense that this definition would produce a survey instrument that focuses on conservative values. Reaching across the isle is noble. However, a partisan definition is still a partisan definition, even if entertained by a psychologist from the opposing party.

The advantage of the term “evaluative diversity”  over “moral diversity” is to escape the non-scientific bias that will necessarily result from having to define “moral”. All values are evaluative, whether they are moral or not. Thus, evaluative diversity includes Liberty/oppression, Fairness/cheating, Care/harm, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation, Originality/orthodoxy, and Effectiveness/inefficiency (and perhaps more).

Unfortunately, there is no field of “evaluative psychology.” The field Haidt inherited and now leads is called “moral psychology”and that isn’t his faultso he finds himself asking people “Is it [morally] wrong for a brother and sister to have sex?” Depending on their own definitions of “morality” (or whether they even bother to have one), some people may find such questions nutty. I’m not God—why ask me? However, Haidt has already revolutionized his field. Asking him to strike the word “moral” from its name might be asking too much.

Independence vs. Interdependence: Should I follow my conscience?

Barbies by MattelEliana Dockterman’s article in the February 8, 2016 issue of Time discussed Mattel’s plans to diversify Barbie dolls into four body types: original, petite, tall, and curvy. It said Mattel decided to sell the dolls in mixed sets to avoid the problem of “a sensitive mom read[ing] into the gift of a curvy doll a comment on her daughter’s weight.” A modern world sees beauty in diversity, and no single doll can reflect that standard of beauty. Thus, Barbie will no longer be one independent doll—Barbie has evolved into an interdependent set.

The set is interdependent because segregating the dolls would diminish Barbie’s beauty, but focus groups at Mattel reveal that lesson has yet to reach young girls. All of the dolls are named “Barbie” but, when asked which doll is Barbie, “the girls invariably point to a blonde.” The response we would prefer is: “That’s a trick question! They are all Barbie together.”

Why don’t we get that response? It may be traced back to the story of the forbidden fruit, a story which is shared by Islam, Christianity, and Judaism and which strongly influenced the development of self-concept in Western culture. The oldest version (in the Torah) may be translated as follows:

Bereishit 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman: ‘Yea, hath God said: Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent: ‘Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’ 4 And the serpent said unto the woman: ‘Ye shall not surely die; 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.’ 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband [Adam] with her, and he did eat.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves girdles. 8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden toward the cool of the day; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto the man, and said unto him: ‘Where art thou?’

10 And he said: ‘I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’

11 And He said: ‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?’

12 And the man said: ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’

13 And the Lord God said unto the woman: ‘What is this thou hast done?’

And the woman said: ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’

14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent: ‘Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.’

16 Unto the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’

17 And unto Adam He said: ‘Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying: Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’

20 And the man called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said: ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’ 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Through this story we have inherited the doctrine that we are “as God, knowing good and evil”. It teaches us to see ourselves as decision-makers of infinite moral potential. This doctrine comes in two very different varieties:

The Independence Doctrine tells us that each human has a conscience which has god-like moral competence, such that any human has the independent ability to achieve moral perfection simply by obeying his or her own conscience. Believers of this doctrine interpret the story of the forbidden fruit as an explanation for the origin of these amazing consciences. Some Christians suggest that consciences were imperfect until Christ sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, but those who believe the Independence Doctrine nonetheless maintain that, for at least the last 2000 years, humans have had the means to achieve independent moral perfection:

Jeremiah 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”

The tendency to look for Barbie and beauty in an individual doll goes with this tendency to look for goodness in an individual person. The Independence Doctrine gives us the expectation that a solitary individual could be sufficient. Believers in this doctrine tend to pray “Give me the wisdom,” or “Let my words be pleasing…” They worry less about the wisdom, goodness and beauty of others because they believe one can be good (enough) despite segregating oneself from those who are not.

The Interdependence Doctrine tells us that we cannot achieve moral perfection independently, but we can contribute meaningfully to the development of a society which will converge on god-like morality collectively if allowed to evolve. Believers of this doctrine interpret the story of the forbidden fruit as an explanation for the origins of this social evolution. They point to history, recorded in scripture and elsewhere, as demonstrating a pattern of discovery in which each generation inherits greater and greater opportunity to recognize moral behavior, and they explain the conscience as merely a snapshot of how social norms currently stand.

Christians who hold the Interdependence Doctrine may believe that love is the greatest treasure we can have and that love goes hand-in-hand with interdependence, so a loving God would want everyone to be interdependent and would withhold divine wisdom from anyone who would use it to become less dependent on others. Thus, God will not fulfill the prophesy of Jeremiah until we abandon independence.  Christians sometimes refer to this as the “Body of Christ”:

Ephesians 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The opposite of independence is not conformity.  Too many articles about independence vs. interdependence falsely portray interdependent individuals as lacking anything unique to contribute. To the contrary, the new interdependent Barbie dolls are more diverse than the independent dolls. Likewise, moral interdependence does not entail a lack of independent moral thought. Socrates explained the idea around 400 BC with the term “social gadfly.” The function of social gadflies is to question prevailing norms. Rather than make the gadflies right (impossible, since they question even each other), this is supposed to spur non-gadflies towards progress. According to the Interdependence Doctrine, neurons produce impulses, brains turn impulses into thoughts, and diverse societies gradually distinguish good ideas from bad ones.  Neurons can fire independently, but they cannot think independently; likewise, brains can think independently, but their independent moral facilities are limited (at best).

While it has been said that something was finished on the cross or in praying the sinner’s prayer, it is clear that our sanctification must continue throughout our lives and even after death. The doctrine of interdependence explains the mechanics of this sanctification: Abraham was part of an interdependent community which continues to this day, so Abraham continues to be sanctified as that community is sanctified. Thus, although current work in human rights, globalization, and health/environmental awareness may be inevitable consequences of the lives of Abraham or Moses or Jesus or Muhammad (etc), such current work nonetheless deserves our attention. Our response to the legacy we inherited should not be merely to accept it, but to advance it (even slightly).

Both doctrines contain conceptual elements found in the story of the forbidden fruit: moral agency, moral knowledge, moral growth/perfection, obedience vs. exploration, and convergence between humanity and divinity. However, the two doctrines yield very different answers to the practical question “Should I follow my conscience?” The Independence Doctrine says “Yes, your conscience is as wise as God—it is perfect.” In contrast, the Interdependence Doctrine says, “It depends upon who you are. Since society advances by modifying social norms, it needs most people to follow those norms most of the time, but also needs some people to explore potential improvements sometimes.”

If the second answer seems indecisive, that may be because it is a response to a trick question.  How can we ask for an objective answer which applies to everyone, if “my conscience” refers to a subjective experience? Similarly when we ask, “Which one is Barbie?” the question makes sense only if not all dolls are Barbie. It has been said that there is no such thing as a bad question, but whether these questions make sense depends upon their answers. To put this another way, the doctrines are like worldviews in that certain questions make no sense unless you happen to hold the associated doctrine.

I maintain that the worldview of the Independence Doctrine constrained scientific imagination in recent times. For over a century experiments have been confirming that we divide into types which come to different moral conclusions, yet no one bothered to test whether those types are interdependent. It was simply assumed (with no evidence) that one of the types can achieve independent moral perfection. Discrimination between interdependent types would harm society, but Jonathan Haidt, Evan Rosenberg and Holly Hom initially assumed that the evaluativism they discovered benefits society—they didn’t bother to consider whether the types might be interdependent. If worldviews can delay the course of science for a century or more, if they can can block girls from perceiving Barbie as diverse even when Mattel creates obviously diverse dolls, then the work of moving forward may be less a work of science or art than a work of social change.

Contrary to Dockterman’s article, a quick check of Mattel’s website reveals that they are selling the new dolls individually. That means Mattel is giving you the power to change the world. You can encourage your friends to buy Barbie in sets. GI-Joe figurines, with their diverse specializations, empowered children to invent stories in which teamwork was essential to competitive success. Let’s empower the next generation to invent stories in which teamwork is also essential to beauty and goodness. Let’s hope to hear Ken saying, “Wow, Barbie, what a beautiful family!”