Abstract of a paper titled "Ideology, motivated reasoning, and cognitive reflection":
"Decision scientists have identified various plausible sources of ideological polarization over climate change, gun violence, national security, and like issues that turn on empirical evidence. This paper describes a study of three of them: the predominance of heuristic-driven information processing by members of the public; ideologically motivated reasoning; and the cognitive-style correlates of political conservativism. The study generated both observational and experimental data inconsistent with the hypothesis that political conservatism is distinctively associated with either unreflective thinking or motivated reasoning. Conservatives did no better or worse than liberals on the Cognitive Reflection Test (Frederick, 2005), an objective measure of information-processing dispositions associated with cognitive biases. In addition, the study found that ideologically motivated reasoning is not a consequence of over-reliance on heuristic or intuitive forms of reasoning generally. On the contrary, subjects who scored highest in cognitive reflection were the most likely to display ideologically motivated cognition. These findings corroborated an alternative hypothesis, which identifies ideologically motivated cognition as a form of information processing that promotes individuals’ interests in forming and maintaining beliefs that signify their loyalty to important affinity groups. The paper discusses the practical significance of these findings, including the need to develop science communication strategies that shield policy-relevant facts from the influences that turn them into divisive symbols of political identity."
Abstract of the paper titled: "Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs":
"We propose a model of motivated skepticism that helps explain when and why citizens are biased-information processors. Two experimental studies explore how citizens evaluate arguments about affirmative action and gun control, finding strong evidence ofa prior attitude effect such that attitudinally congruent arguments are evaluated as stronger than attitudinally incongruent arguments. When reading pro and con arguments, participants (Ps) counterargue the contrary arguments and uncritically accept supporting arguments, evidence of a disconfirmation bias. We also find a confirmation biasthe seeking out of confirmatory evidence-when Ps are free to self-select the source of the arguments they read. Both the confirmation and disconfirmation biases lead to attitude polarization-the strengthening oft2 over t attitudes-especially among those with the strongest priors and highest levels of political sophistication. We conclude with a discussion of the normative implications of these findings for rational behavior in a democracy.'