Two psychologists Brittany Liu and Peter Ditto from the University of California-Irvine conducted a study to evaluate how liberals and conservatives dealt with so called hard truths in areas that they may not be prone to believing because of their ideologies. The study looked at four areas – two of these areas are supported by liberals and detested by conservatives and two are supported by conservatives and detested by liberals:
#1 – Educating kids on condoms
#2 – Embryonic stem cell research
#3 – The death penalty
#4 – Water boarding captives
Even though both liberals and conservatives alike had a tendency to rationalize their views … conservatives created a new reality essentially in all four of these areas in order to square their thought process. The conservative movement by and large suffers from this; another term for this is cognitive dissonance. For whatever reason – the brains of conservatives just make stuff up in order to justify their support for two conflicting beliefs.
Conservatives are against “socialism” but love Medicare. They hate Obamacare but nominated a guy who created the model for Obamacare. They’re against abortion but don’t want to teach kids about condoms. They don’t like Wall Street but want fewer regulations. The list goes on. And that’s why people search for the news that reassures them that they are correct instead of simply searching for the truth; cognitive dissonance is the reason that Fox News is profitable.
Alternet has an explanation of the study HERE:
In the study, Liu and Ditto report, conservatives tilted their views of the facts to favor their moral convictions more than liberals did, on every single issue. And that was true whether it was a topic that liberals oppose (the death penalty) or that conservatives oppose (embryonic stem cell research). “Conservatives are doing this to a larger degree across four different issues,” Liu explained in an interview. “Including two that are leaning to the liberal side, not the conservative side.”
There is a longstanding (if controversial) body of research on liberal-conservative psychological differences that may provide an answer for why this occurs. Conservatives, Liu notes, score higher on a trait called the need for cognitive closure , which describes a feeling of discomfort with uncertainty and the need to hold a firm belief, a firm conviction, unwaveringly. Insofar as a need for closure pushes one to want to hold coherent, consistent beliefs–and makes one intolerant of ambiguity–it makes sense that wanting to achieve “moral coherence” between one’s factual and moral views would also go along with it. Conservatives, in this interpretation, would naturally have more conviction that the facts of the world, and their moral systems, are perfectly aligned. Liberals, in contrast, might be more conflicted–supportive of embryonic stem cell research, for instance, but nourishing doubts about whether the scientific promise we heard so much about a decade ago is being realized.
You can download the study HERE.
Republican pollster Frank Lutz gives 5 tangible examples of how conservatives suffer from this HERE:
As part of the Washington Post Outlook section’s “5 Myths” series, Luntz makes the case that ordinary voters who call themselves “conservative” aren’t obsessed with reducing the size of government; don’t want to deport illegal immigrants en masse; aren’t big fans of Wall Street; want to preserve Medicare and Social Security; and agree with liberals that income inequality is at least problematic.
Make no mistake: Luntz is road-testing talking points here. Yet if you ignore the partisan gloss, I think the thrust of Luntz’s data paints an accurate picture: Conservative voters suffer from cognitive dissonance. They are less conservative than they think, and they are decidedly less conservative than professional conservatives in Washington. That most Americans, including conservatives, hate big government only in the abstract is a truism of politics. Luntz’s data is yet another confirmation of Americans’ operational liberalism.
Berkeley Political Review explains how poor Republicans can still support laissez-faire economics HERE:
The simultaneous adherence to the abstract “freedom” that capitalist behavior is portrayed to embody is now clashing with harsh employment prospects and irresponsible banking practices. A pre-recession report by the Pew Research Center found that “76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. In the words of David Brooks in 2005, “the G.O.P. succeeds because it is seen as the party of optimistic individualism.” With optimism destroyed by the great recession, this socially unconscious individualism is leading many conservatives to a state of cognitive dissonance.
It is unclear whether it was the great recession or the concerns raised by the Occupy Movement, but prior to these events, no presidential candidate would have ever considered even implying faults in the pursuit of free market tactics. Conservatism is being torn between sticking to capitalistic and free market ideals under the banner of “freedom,” and the realization of the sheer number of people suffering from the effects these ideals have had on the American economy. As long as poor Republican constituents continue to adhere to a free market version of freedom and not the alternative of freedom from predatory lending, private debt, and inequality, they will continue to live in a state of cognitive dissonance.
The Economist explains how conservatives do this by supporting Mitt Romney in healthcare but railing against President Obama’s health care law which is practically identical HERE:
Mr Romney’s very presence on the national scene reminds conservative editorialists of the fact that Obamacare, a policy they have demonised as incipient tyrannical socialism, differs little from policies many prominent conservatives once endorsed. The cognitive dissonance is too great to bear. So conservative opinionmakers are left with a choice: admit that individual mandates and many other features of Obamacare figured prominently in conservative health-care reform proposals just a few years ago, or throw Mr Romney to the wolves for the crime of leadership in health-care reform. By juxtaposing National Review’s editorial on Mr Romney’s recent health-care speech with its 2007 editorial endorsing him for the GOP nomination for president, Matthew Yglesias perfectly captures how the right is making Mr Romney pay for its own en masse opportunistic waffling. Here’s National Review on Friday:
[W]hen conservatives argue that Obamacare is a threat to the economy, to the quality of health care, and to the proper balance between government and citizenry, we do not mean that it should be implemented at the state level. We mean that it should not be implemented at all. And Romney’s health-care federalism is wobbly. The federal government picked up a fifth of the cost of his health-care plan. His justification for the individual mandate also lends itself naturally toward federal imposition of a mandate. He says that the state had to make insurance compulsory to prevent cost shifting, because federal law requires hospitals to treat all comers, insured or not. But if federal law is the source of a national problem, it makes no sense to advocate a state-by-state solution.
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