While combing the internet reading research articles (something that so much of my time will now be spent doing!) I came across an in-press article that instantly caught my attention, and I couldn't put down or stop thinking about. An all-star team of social psychology researchers joined forces to publish an article titled Political Diversity will Improve Social Psychology that discusses a sort of crisis the field of social psychology is experiencing due to the lack of viewpoint diversity, particularly political diversity.
Some key things that stood out for me:
- The ideological imbalance in the field is only getting worse, with fewer and fewer non-liberal students being found in the grad school pipeline (p. 8)
- Ideological imbalance leads to "sacred cows" in research, that is certain topics are being left unstudied because of their controversial nature or their potential to conflict with the majority's political ideology, among other things (p. 14-15)
- Having alternative viewpoints leads to more rigorous science and research, as it open up the possibility for alternative viewpoints/perspectives on issues and research studies, different methods, different questions being investigated, less opportunity for unchecked bias, and forces researchers to work harder to ensure the integrity of their work (p. 19 & 24)
- "More political diversity would help the system discover more truth (p. 20)."
- Hostile climate is a key factor inhibiting political diversity, with many students likely self-selecting out of academia due to perceptions (and possibly personal experiences) indicating that they are not welcome in the field, or to stay in the closet and hide their beliefs out of fear of retaliation (p. 30-31). (my research on student perceptions of the campus political climate reflects this, in addition to my political diversity of university faculty research)
- Unfortunately, it has become the rational thing to do for most non-liberal faculty to keep their political identities hidden (p. 34)
- We need to bring this issue to the light of day, discuss it, and work toward fundamental attitude changes within the field, and welcome viewpoint diversity as much as we welcome other forms of diversity within the field, and now is the perfect time to address this issue (p. 36 & 40).
- Many in Congress, who holds the purse-strings to much funding utilized by the field, view the field as politically lopsided, and as such are becoming more skeptical about funding the field's research. Even selfish motives such as desiring to maintain a research funding stream could be sufficient to motivate the field into action (p.41).
- By allowing this extreme ideological lopsidedness and likely significant political discrimination to occur many in the field are violating the core values that are supposed to motivate and serve as a foundation for work conducted; we can no longer rationalize and justify maintaining the staus quo (p.41).
Every critical item related to this topic is covered in this article--a lot to take in, but so many important things to think about and consider.
I can hardly wait to read commentary on their article, and for the field to jump into discussion on this critical issue. I am quite excited that I can get excited about things like this, and I look forward to contributing to this important area with my research work. The call to action couldn't be any more necessary or clear. If you can, take some time to read the article. You will most definitely be able to consider it time well spent.