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Chapter 7

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PSYC 333
Jennifer Bartz

Complex Answers to a Simple Question: Is Integrative Complexity “Politically Correct”? From The Social Psychologists: Research Adventures ed. Gary G. Brannigan, Matthew R. Merrens By: Philip E. Tetlock Scientists are supposed to be dedicated to the truth—even if they find it distasteful This is why political psychology is difficult • Not the subject matter, but the character of its practitioners • Need openness to evidence that may overrun important assumptions • Hard to say you’re wrong; worse with emotionally/politically charged issues Tabula rasa model of political psychologist is wrong • Have political preconceptions/prejudices • Tend to be liberal • Like egalitarian social policies, detest racism, sceptical of use of force in IR, suspicious of justifications for war Is it possible to do rigorous scientific research on topics that touch one’s deepest moral and political feelings? Integrative Complexity Tetlock special interest in social and political reasoning Wanted to study it, but needed to get beyond rating scales to natural language—but how? Discovered Peter Suedfeld’s content analysis, in particular the integrative complexity coding system - Ignore what people are saying and focus on how they say it - Some think there is only one way to think about a topic - Others more open minded and see room for reasonable people to disagree EXAMPLE: ABORTION Lowest level of complexity scale (score of 1) responses show no tolerance for other ways of looking at the world (low evaluative differentiation) for both pro-choice and pro-life arguments: Abortion is about freedom of choice and feminism. Abortion is infanticide. Score 2 and 3 in complexity scale shows greater tolerance for alternative views: I am pro-choice but find abortion peronsally and morally repugnant; I recognize not everyone agrees and I don’t have a right to impose my personal philosophy on other people Score levels of 4 and 5 have active attempts to explain how disagreements might have arisen, or specification for how to reconcile conflicting perspectives Some people see abortion as murder; some as fundamental civil liberty—it’s all about how they look at the fetus; when should we grant a fetus the rights we grant to human beings? Compromise is the point of viability outside the womb. The highest score levels in integrative complexity coding (6 – 7) shows emergence to integrate conflicting values, but also emergence of flexible, complex combinatorial principles Some people see abortion as murder; some as a fundamental civil liberty. There are lots of issues influencing which position you take including bio-medical, ethical, and legal-constitutional. People can disagree on any or all of these issues—it’s not an all or nothing position. Training people to assess integrative complexity usually requires a weeklong workshop - Recognize linguistic indicators of differentiation o But, however, although - Linguistic indicators of integration o Mutual, joint, balancing, trade-offs Must also be objective: low-complexity doesn’t mean bad guys and high-complexity is not the good guys. Most coders have been liberals, but Tetlock needed to ensure no political bias in codes that people assigned - One coder refused to be “duped” by high-complexity Republican speech; claimed she would not “reward” him with a high score - Two problems: o Thought she was seeing into his state of mind o Thought of high-complexity as better than low-complexity Early work on integrative complexity illustrates law of the hammer—give a child a hammer and everything looks like a nail Didn’t contemplate “normative questions” about how people should think, but rather how they do think, and needed to collect data. - No limit to range of applications—diplomatic communications, revolutionary leaders, household arguments Discovered a variety of things: - Types of situations that motivate people to be more or less complex - Types of people more likely to be more complex on average - Consequences of integrative complexity o does high complexity make you a better decision maker or judge of character? Academics tend to believe that high complexity is better—devalue simplicity Reinforced by many early findings - national leaders with high complexity less likely to go to war o integrative simplicity the language of war o complexity plinge in months before the war - integrative xomplecity tend
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