Conservatives Are Just Lazy Thinkers (New Research Suggests)
This is fascinating: New research suggests that, “when under time pressure or otherwise cognitively impaired, people are more likely to express conservative views.”
The study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, tested responses from participants as their thinking was challenged, first by alcohol, then by multi-tasking distractions, time constraints, and finally by instructions to basically not even think at all.
The results from all four experiments showed that the less thinking involved, the more conservative the participants’ expressed views would be. So: upshots and implications?
For one thing, while it may not be surprising, it is important to note that conservative thinking (an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo) seems to be our ’default’ setting. This makes perfect sense: to even consider challenges to the status quo requires effort.
Unfortunately, as the researchers explain:
Without the means or motive to override an initial impulse that promotes conservative ideology, the political scales may be tipped toward the right of center and may provide a contributing explanation for what has been described as a conservative bias in American politics.
For those of us hoping for progress, this demonstrates an obvious problem: as Americans become increasingly more distracted (by mobile apps, 1001 cable channels, long hard hours of unpaid overtime…) it becomes more difficult to simply expend the energy to think and thus embrace more liberal views.
Of course, the researchers also found:
And when care, consideration, and cogitation increases, we find that endorsement of political conservatism decreases. These findings were again limited to conservatism; there were no comparable or contrastive effects found for political liberalism. There seems to be something unique about the ideological content of political conservatism and its relation to low-effort thought.
So what’s the good news here for progressives and liberals? Bragging rights. Hey, conservatives! Who’s lazy now?