A fascinating article on why social psychology needs more political diversity is due to be published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Sadly the full article is locked behind a paywall but the abstract gives an excellent summary of the article and the wider problem itself.
Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science.
Duarte JL, Crawford JT, Stern C, Haidt J, Jussim L, Tetlock PE.
Behav Brain Sci. 2014 Jul 18:1-54. [Epub ahead of print]
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.
As the article notes there is considerable evidence that social diversity is beneficial on many levels for numerous types of social groups.
This is widely believed in social science and community work except when it comes to political opinion where many believe that non-liberal views are incompatible with this type of work, when clearly they are not. This affects the field to the point where people are seemingly prepared to actively discriminate against non-liberals.
The defence of diversity matters most when you are defending the inclusion of people with whom you disagree or who make you uncomfortable. And we will all be better off as a result.
Link to PubMed entry for article.