On the most basic level, the past decade of research has shown that the answer to this question is that it’s complicated. Some people are more objectivist; others are more relativist. That might seem obvious, but later studies explored the differences between people with these types of thinking. When participants are asked whether they would be willing to share an apartment with a roommate who holds opposing views on moral or political questions, objectivists are more inclined to say no. When participants are asked to sit down in a room next to a person who has opposing views, objectivists actually sit farther away. As University of Pennsylvania psychologist Geoffrey P. Goodwin once put it, people who hold an objectivist view tend to respond in a more “closed” fashion.
Why might this be? One straightforward possibility is that if you think there is an objectively correct answer, you may be drawn to conclude that everyone who holds the opposite view is simply incorrect and therefore not worth listening to. Thus, people’s view about objective moral truths could shape their approach to interacting with others. This is a plausible hypothesis and one worth investigating in further studies. Yet we thought that there might be more to the story. In particular, we suspected there might be an effect in the opposite direction. Perhaps it’s not just that having objectivist views shapes your interactions with other people; perhaps your interactions with other people can actually shape the degree to which you hold objectivist views.