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November 6, 2017 at 9:31 am

Alicke in Psychology Today | Can We All Get Along? Should We?

Dr. Mark Alicke, seated in his office

Dr, Mark Alicke

Dr. Mark Alicke, Professor of Psychology, authored a column on “Can We All Get Along? Should We? Where do we draw the line in associating with people whose values we dislike?” in Psychology Today.

Best friends, family members, and spouses argue about all kinds of things: Who is the best quarterback, who should be picked on The Bachelor, whether their daughter’s boyfriend is youthfully rebellious or a total loser, which movie to watch, among many other sources of disagreement. When these disagreements involve relatively inconsequential preferences and opinions, they are harmless and sometimes entertaining. But what about when the preferences become more serious and involve fundamental values?

Can an atheist and a deeply religious person get married and live happily ever after? What about extreme liberals and conservatives? Can someone whose best friends include gay people successfully befriend others who think that homosexuality is the devil’s work? Most of us can readily cite examples in our own lives in which we have maintained friendships with people whose values diverged sharply from our own. In fact, when these dissenters are family members, we have little choice but to figure it out unless we decide to abandon our family altogether.

But the stakes in the present social and political climate are escalating. Last week, as I was watching CNN, a panelist, Mark Lamont Hill called President Donald Trump a white supremacist. This came on the heels of Jemelle Hill, a reporter on ESPN’s Sports Center, saying not only that Trump is a white supremacist, but asserting that he is surrounded by other white supremacists. And then there is the debate surrounding the protests during the national anthem among many National Football League players. People we care about may disagree strongly with our social and political views, and given that these views concern people’s fundamental values and character, it is quite a different matter than if they disagreed with our food preferences, favorite sports teams, or preferred vacation sites.

So, how to handle these differences? People who try to right every wrong they perceive, or to convince others of their wisdom and rectitude, can be tiresome—the word for this is a “scold.” They also risk being seen as contemptuous, hypocritical, and argumentative. On the other hand, what about someone who never takes a stand or expresses a controversial view? …

Read the rest of Alicke’s column at Psychology Today.

His blog posts to Psychology Today are headed “Why We Blame.”

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