Study: Conservatism is the default ideology of the intellectually distracted
Have you ever wondered why public-opinion polls often show that some people who actually take the liberal side on most political issues if they really think about them nonetheless identify themselves as conservative rather than liberal?
Well, one explanation of that curious phenomenon has emerged.
A fascinating new study INDICATES that when people are “under time pressure or otherwise cognitively impaired, [they] are more likely to express conservative views.”
A research team led by University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman argues that conservatism — which the researchers identify as “an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo” — may be our default ideology. If we don’t have the time or energy to give a matter sufficient thought, we tend to accept the conservative argument.
“When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient,” the researchers write in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. “These conditions promote conservative ideology.”
Mind you, this research (and the stuff cited below) doesn’t dispute the fact that millions of Americans hold genuinely conservative views on most political issues. It’s just that millions of other Americans aren’t as conservative as they think.
For example, lest you fail to click on a CERTAIN LINK in the article above, allow me to draw attention to it:
Among the many memes floating around in the wake of the 2010 election is that American has taken a rightward turn, and conservative pundits seem re-energized in calling America a center-right nation. After all, a plurality of American voters (42 percent) now call themselves “conservative” — as compared to just 35 percent who say they are “moderate” and 20 percent who say they are “liberal.” Two years ago, moderates and conservatives both were at 37 percent.
But new research suggests that pundits ought to be cautious of overintepreting the conservative label: It doesn’t always mean what they think it means: Only a quarter of self-identified “conservatives” may actually be true conservatives on the issues — less than the 30 percent of whom are not conservative at all, but simply like the label.
The reason why so few “conservatives” turn out to be solid right-wingers is that the word “conservative” has different meanings for different people, according to political scientists Christopher Ellis of Bucknell and James A. Stimson of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who describe their findings in a new working paper, “Pathways to Ideology in American Politics: The Operational-Symbolic ‘Paradox’ Revisited.”