Is Our First Response ‘Right’?

Is Our First Response ‘Right’?

Low-effort thought – including rapid, distracted or intoxicated reactions – tends to coincide with conservative ideology, according to recent studies by psychologist Scott Eidelman and colleagues.

In one field study, bar patrons were asked their opinions about several social issues before blowing into a Breathalyzer. Whether the individual self-identified as liberal or conservative, higher blood alcohol levels were associated with endorsement of more conservative positions.

In a lab experiment, some participants were asked to respond quickly to political ideas, while others had ample time to respond. In another survey, some participants were able to concentrate while responding to political statements, while others were distracted. In both lab experiments, participants with less opportunity to deliberate endorsed conservative ideas more than those who were able to concentrate.

The researchers stressed that their results should not be interpreted to suggest that conservatives are not thoughtful.

“Everyone uses low-effort thinking, and this may have ideological consequences,” they write. “Motivational factors are crucial determinants of ideology, aiding or correcting initial responses depending on one’s goals, beliefs and values. Our perspective suggests that these initial and uncorrected responses lean conservative.”

Eidelman collaborated with Christian Crandall of the University of Kansas; Jeffrey A. Goodman of University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire; and John C. Blanchar, a University of Arkansas graduate student, on studies reported in “Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism,” which was published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Read more at University of Arkansas Newswire.

About The Author

University Relations Science and Research Team

University Relations Science and Research Team

Matt McGowan
science and research writer

Robert Whitby
science and research writer

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