What Makes Us More ‘Critically Open-Minded' in a Globalized World? an Australian Perspective

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Seyed A. HOSSEINI FARADONBEH, The University of Newcastle, Australia
Lawrence SAHA, Sociology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
This paper defines and examines a new concept of ‘Critical Open-mindedness’ within an Australian context as a social-attitudinal collective phenomenon, This is in contrast to the popular social psychological notions of open-mindedness as a cognitive-personal attribute. Our main objective is to investigate the relationship between Cognitive Open-mindedness and Critical Open-mindedness. It draws on the data from the World Values Surveys (2005 and 2012) in Australia to operationalize both types of open-mindedness as composite indicators, composed of several dimensions. It then examines, using path analysis, the relationships of the two indicators on a number of mediating ideational, structural and behavioral determinants. Critical Open-mindedness is found to be more dependent on socio-economic factors than Cognitive Open-mindedness does. However, the former is significantly and positively determined by the latter, especially the Social Trust and Anti-authoritarian dimensions of it. Critical Open-mindedness is also significantly and positively associated with the individuals’ tendency towards the political left,  a cosmopolitan sense of belonging, a confidence in environmental organizations, higher levels of education (the most important structural factor), gender (being female), confidence in humanitarian organizations, interest in politics, experiencing discrimination, and independence at work. We discuss the implications and consequences of the lack of Critical Open-mindedness to our understanding of our behavior regarding a range of social issues, for example, the creation of “negative collective identities” and social divisions through intolerant behavior. In this context, we argue that the “social collective” acts as a determinant rather than the characteristics or quality of individuals. Finally, we consider potential policy measures for fostering a healthy critical open-mindedness in the context of an increasingly globalized multicultural environment.