Liberal Bias Distorts Scientific Psychology (and Education)

Bad Science and Bad Teaching

Posted Aug 19, 2014

I posted this blog a couple of days ago, and made the unmitigated mistake of forgetting to post the disclaimer that I wrote for all such blogs:

Disclaimer: Political Bias Is About Science

As a result, most of the first several comments (through 8/20/14) are all about liberal-defending or liberal-bashing.  That is not what this blog series is about, and it is not what the papers posted below are about.  I almost never take down comments, because I like keeping them as a sort of written record of people's thought processes and reactions which sometimes strike me as ... quite strange.

Anyway, I request that you read the disclaimer above (it is a clickable link), if you have not already done so, before proceeding to the rest of this blog entry. 


This is the abstract of an article I recently had accepted at Behavioral and Brain Sciences, one of the highest impact journals in psychology:

Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity—particularly diversity of viewpoints—for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: 1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years; 2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike; 3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority's thinking; and 4) The underrepresentation of non-liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self-selection, hostile climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.

You can find the full article here:

 That is actually the Publications page of Dr. Jarret Crawford.  If you are interested in these issues, you might be interested in the rest of his page:     (I realize this says “teaching” but that is some web screwup – it is his publications page).

Dr. Crawford is a model of how to conduct research on politicized topics without allowing one’s personal politics to interfere.  He is quite explicit about being personally quite liberal, yet he routinely finds, and, more important, reports without left-serving spin, results that demonstrate liberals are generally just as intolerant and biased as conservatives, and sometimes more so. 

 You can find another one of my recent papers on these topics here:

Here is the abstract:

This chapter has four main goals.  First, we review evidence suggesting that there is a large skew to the political left among social psychologists, a disproportion that seems to be about ten liberals for every one conservative, which diverges sharply with the ratio in the U.S. population. Second, we review theoretical and empirical bases suggesting a role for hostile work environment and political discrimination processes within social psychology contributing to that skew.  Third, we argue that double standards, blind spots, and embedded values infiltrate theory and method in the social psychology of intergroup relations, which lead to exaggerated narratives of oppression, and tendencies to underestimate the role of accuracy and rationality in group and person perception.  Finally, we identify possible solutions to the problems of political bias in social psychology.


Dr. John Chambers’ publication page:

Dr. Chambers has a slew of papers that contest the dominant leftwing narratives in social psychology.  For example, like Dr. Crawford, he finds that conservatives are just as prejudiced as are liberals – just against different groups.  He has great work contesting a published claim that conservatives are happier than liberals because conservatives “rationalize away inequality.”  He has other great work showing that both liberals and conservatives tend to exaggerate each other’s positions (i.e., don’t believe what a liberal claims about conservatives, or what conservatives claim about liberals).  Like Dr. Crawford, his work allows the data to say what they have to say – regardless of which “side” they “vindicate.”

And here is a link to essentially a blog based on a talk given by Dr. Michael Munger. He is a political scientist trained as an economist, a former chair of political science at Duke, and an award-winning teacher.  One of those teaching awards was from the NAACP for the quality of his teaching on race:

It is titled “Our higher education system fails leftist students.”

Short version – the dominance of the left on campus means they rarely are challenged to justify their views, and thus end up with an unjustifiably simplistic and often smug view of liberals’ inherent superiority.  This sits well with many liberal faculty but ultimately does the students a disservice. It often leads to atrophied logical and reasoning skills resulting from lack of challenge, and leaves many ill-suited to engage in public political discourse about contentious issues in an intelligent, informed, or sensible manner