The Way of Adventure
An Unconventional Online Course for Young People

Moral Foundations

To begin this challenge, go to, create a free account, and complete the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Don’t continue until you’ve done so.

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What does morality have to do with adventure? They seem like totally different topics. But they’re not.

Remember, adventure is about intentionally putting yourself into uncomfortable situations that lead to growth. 

This principle doesn’t just apply to your body; it applies to your mind. Adventurous people are constantly using their minds in uncomfortable ways that lead to growth—which means that they get of your little bubbles and try to understand the thoughts and needs of others.

Let’s take a few classic examples.

Want to travel the world? You’ll need to learn about the cultures of other people, accept the discomfort that comes with foreign practices, and often, play along with traditions that you may not agree with.

Want to start your own business? You’ll need to understand and focus on the needs of your customers, rather than yourself. Whatever you think is important will often take a backseat to what they think is important.

Want to start a family? You might say this is the ultimate adventure—the one that most people on earth get to experience. If you decide to become a parent, then you may discover that your children aren’t who you thought they’d be. They’re individuals with their own thoughts, beliefs, and values that may radically differ from yours—and if you’d like to have a family, then you need to accept these differences.

For these reasons and more, adventurers must understand their own morality, as well as the morality of others. Without this ability, you will not be able to put your mind into uncomfortable situations that lead to growth. You’ll be forever stuck in whatever belief system you were raised in, unable to escape.

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Jonathan Haidt is the co-creator of Moral Foundations Theory and the questionnaire that you just took. To better understand your results, watch his excellent TED Talk:

There’s a lot to discuss here, but for the purpose of this challenge, we’ll focus on politics (which is also what Haidt focuses on in his talk and questionnaire).

The 2016 U.S. presidential election provided an incredible event, both for its unexpected outcome and for the passionate anger that both sides, liberal and conservative, expressed for each other.

In a climate like the 2016 election—no matter which side you were on—it was very easy to claim the moral high ground, call the other side “dumb”, and write them off as moral failures.

But as Haidt illuminates, when you start diving deeper into the foundations of morality, it’s not so simple. If you claim that those who don’t share your beliefs are worthless incompetents—if you make no effort to understand their reasoning, backgrounds, or motives—then you yourself may be the moral failure.

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So here’s the challenge: Have a productive conversation on social media with someone who holds different moral foundations than you do. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Begin by reading The “Other Side” is Not Dumb, an article by Sean Blanda that exemplifies the spirit of this challenge.
  2. Choose a topic that you feel passionate about: climate change, abortion rights, or the minimum wage, for example.
  3. Choose a social media platform you feel comfortable with: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or a simple discussion forum or comment section.
  4. Find somewhere on that platform where people with opposing moral foundations congregate. If you’re liberal on the issue at hand, look for a gathering spot of conservative (or possibly libertarian) people, and vice-versa.
  5. Kickstart the discussion by writing a kindly worded post that emphasizes your intention to learn. At the same time, be honest and upfront about the beliefs that you’re bringing to the table. If you word this the right way, then people will be excited to engage you, instead of hostile (as you might fear).
  6. As the discussion progresses, remember Sean Blanda’s advice: Don’t try to “win.” Don’t try to “convince” anyone of your viewpoint. Don’t score points by mocking them to your peers. Instead try to “lose.” Hear them out. Ask them to convince you and mean it.
  7. Ignore the haters. Because haters are gonna hate. Give them none of your time.
  8. When you feel like you’ve learned all that you can, politely close the conversation. Thank the individuals who engaged with you.

Publish a record of this conversation on your portfolio. You can get all fancy by posting screenshots, or you can just copy and paste the highlights into a page on your site. No matter how you do it, share the whole story, and be candid about what you learned (and how you may have changed). The more honest and vulnerable you are, the more you’ll take out of this challenge.

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