The Motivated Processing of Political Arguments

The Motivated Processing of Political Arguments We report the results of an experiment designed to replicate and extend recent findings on motivated political reasoning. In particular, we are interested in disconfirmation biases—the tendency to counter-argue or discount information with which one disagrees—in the processing of political arguments on policy issues. Our experiment examines 8 issues, including some of local relevance and some of national relevance, and manipulates the presentation format of the policy arguments. We find strong support for our basic disconfirmation hypothesis: people seem unable to ignore their prior beliefs when processing arguments or evidence. We also find that this bias is moderated by political sophistication and strength of prior attitude. We do not find, however, that argument type matters, suggesting that motivated biases are quite robust to changes in argument format. Finally, we find strong support for the polarization of attitudes as a consequence of biased processing. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

The Motivated Processing of Political Arguments

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-008-9075-8
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We report the results of an experiment designed to replicate and extend recent findings on motivated political reasoning. In particular, we are interested in disconfirmation biases—the tendency to counter-argue or discount information with which one disagrees—in the processing of political arguments on policy issues. Our experiment examines 8 issues, including some of local relevance and some of national relevance, and manipulates the presentation format of the policy arguments. We find strong support for our basic disconfirmation hypothesis: people seem unable to ignore their prior beliefs when processing arguments or evidence. We also find that this bias is moderated by political sophistication and strength of prior attitude. We do not find, however, that argument type matters, suggesting that motivated biases are quite robust to changes in argument format. Finally, we find strong support for the polarization of attitudes as a consequence of biased processing.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 15, 2008

References

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