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article imageStudy links political conservatism with 'low effort thinking'

By JohnThomas Didymus     Apr 11, 2012 in Politics
A new study has linked conservative ideology with "low effort thinking." According to study lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman, "People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response."
The study suggested that political conservatism "may be a process consequence of low-effort thought. When effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.”
Huffington Post reports that in response to the question whether conservatives are lazy thinkers, Eidelman responded: "Not quite. Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking."
In the study, the team of psychologists asked people about their political view points while sitting in a bar and then in a laboratory.
Individuals at the bar were asked about social issues. Then, they were asked to blow into a Breathalyzer. Analysis of results showed that political viewpoints of bar patrons with high blood alcohol levels tended to be more conservative than those of bar patrons with low blood alcohol levels.
The researchers, however, tested the hypothesis that it was not alcohol that was making the high blood alcohol level patrons express conservative views, by conducting a similar interview in the lab. They found that when people were asked to evaluate political ideas quickly, or while they were distracted, they were more likely to express conservative view points.
The researchers concluded that "low-effort thought, which takes over as people's blood-alcohol level increases" also takes over "when they're forced to quickly process information," and it "boosted their penchant for politically conservative views." According to the study, increased "cognitive load" made people more conservative, "implying our brains can only handle so much before they eschew liberal ideologies."
Huffington Post reports Eidelman said: "Keeping people from thinking too much...or just asking them to deliberate or consider information in a cursory manner can impact people's political attitudes, and in a way that consistently promotes political conservatism."
Huffington Post compared the study with a recent study reported in February, and published in the journal "Psychological Science," that showed that children who scored low on intelligence tests tended to grow up into adults with conservative political views. It was suggested that this may be because "conservative ideologies stress 'structure and order' that make it easier to understand a complicated world."
But while the study authors denied that conservatives are "lazy thinkers," their conclusion that "when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases" amounts to saying conservatives are "lazy thinkers." A comment on summarizes the essential point of the study conclusions: "In other news, thinking is a monumental effort to the likes of Skizmarks."
The study, as expected, has provoked angry reactions from conservatives. A comment on, read: "LMAO! Funny stuff. They spend the evening in bars, spending someone else' money of course, and as they get drunk and their minds get wasted they come up with the conclusions reported in their 'findings.' Only liberals would publish this crap. Next up is their report on how LSD can really enlighten their minds."
But many liberals are evidently pleased with the scientific backing for the suggestion are liberals are "smarter" than conservatives. A comment by "Danni" on, read: "Just more proof that talking points substitute for information among most conservatives. The simplest argument is their favorite regardless if it is correct. You can even correct them over and over but they will continue to repeat the simplest talking points. They can't or won't learn, probably some of both."
While many will certainly question the scientific validity of the study, it was published in the journal "Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin," a scientific research journal.
More about Conservatives, low effort thinking, Dr Scott Eidelman
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