Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Partisan Psychology: Why Do People Choose Political Loyalties Over Facts?

Posted by on May. 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM
  • 11 Replies
1 mom liked this

When pollsters ask Republicans and Democrats whether the president can do anything about high gas prices, the answers reflect the usual partisan divisions in the country. About two-thirds of Republicans say the president can do something about high gas prices, and about two-thirds of Democrats say he can't.

But six years ago, with a Republican president in the White House, the numbers were reversed: Three-fourths of Democrats said President Bush could do something about high gas prices, while the majority of Republicans said gas prices were clearly outside the president's control.

The flipped perceptions on gas prices isn't an aberration, said Dartmouth College political scientist Brendan Nyhan. On a range of issues, partisans seem partial to their political loyalties over the facts. When those loyalties demand changing their views of the facts, he said, partisans seem willing to throw even consistency overboard.

Last time it was Republicans who were against a flip-flopping, out-of-touch elitist from Massachusetts, and now it's Democrats.

Nyhan cited the work of political commentator Jonathan Chait, who has drawn a contrast between the upcoming 2012 election between President Obama and the likely Republican nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and the 2004 election between President Bush and John Kerry, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

"Last time it was Republicans who were against a flip-flopping, out-of-touch elitist from Massachusetts, and now it's Democrats," Nyhan said.

Nyhan also contrasted the outrage in 2004 among Democrats who felt that Bush was politicizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for political gain, and the outrage today among Republicans who feel the Obama re-election campaign is exploiting the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"The whole political landscape has flipped," Nyhan said.

Along with Jason Reifler at Georgia State University, Nyhan said, he's exploring the possibility that partisans reject facts because they produce cognitive dissonance - the psychological experience of having to hold inconsistent ideas in one's head. When Democrats hear the argument that the president can do something about high gas prices, that produces dissonance because it clashes with the loyalties these voters feel toward Obama. The same thing happens when Republicans hear that Obama cannot be held responsible for high gas prices - the information challenges their dislike of the president.

Nyhan and Reifler hypothesized that partisans reject such information not because they're against the facts, but because it's painful. That notion suggested a possible solution: If partisans were made to feel better about themselves - if they received a little image and ego boost - could this help them more easily absorb the "blow" of information that threatens their pre-existing views?

Nyhan said that ongoing - and as yet, unpublished - research was showing the technique could be effective. The researchers had voters think of times in their lives when they had done something very positive and found that, fortified by this positive memory, voters were more willing to take in information that challenged their pre-existing views.

"One person talked about taking care of his elderly grandmother - something you wouldn't expect to have any influence on people's factual beliefs about politics," Nyhan said. "But that brings to mind these positive feelings about themselves, which we think will protect them or inoculate them from the threat that unwelcome ideas or unwelcome information might pose to their self-concept."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/05/09/152287372/partisan-psychology-why-are-people-partial-to-political-loyalties-over-facts?ft=3&f=111787346&sc=nl&cc=es-20120513

by on May. 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
SLTmom
by Silver Member on May. 14, 2012 at 8:44 AM
5 moms liked this
This is very interesting and, I think, cuts to the heart of the political divide in this country. People prefer to "fight against a common enemy", than to challenge their own dearly held beliefs and values, and admit 1. They themselves might be wrong or 2. The other side isn't "as wrong" as we think.

"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief"  Gerry Spence

Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on May. 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM

 

Quoting SLTmom:

This is very interesting and, I think, cuts to the heart of the political divide in this country. People prefer to "fight against a common enemy", than to challenge their own dearly held beliefs and values, and admit 1. They themselves might be wrong or 2. The other side isn't "as wrong" as we think.

 

This.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on May. 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM
1 mom liked this

If 1 side had all the right answers to every problem that plagues our country, there would only be ONE party...and no problems.

p1r4t3cr0pc1rcl
by on May. 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM
1 mom liked this

This is interesting. I love NPR, however, I do think it's true. Instead of looking into facts, they cling to people. I will vote for a president who can and will actually do something about the issues. Democrat or Republican or Liberal. It's just not right to vote based on party. We need to get rid of the party names and sides and get down to brass tacks and real issues.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on May. 14, 2012 at 10:49 AM

There is a lot more cognitive dissonance on one side, though.  The article/study shouldn't have ignored this FACT.

p1r4t3cr0pc1rcl
by on May. 14, 2012 at 10:54 AM
1 mom liked this

This is true. That should have been brought up and elaborated on.

Quoting futureshock:

There is a lot more cognitive dissonance on one side, though.  The article/study shouldn't have ignored this FACT.


jewels5525
by Gold Member on May. 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Too many people do just blindly follow what they hear.  But given Bush-maybe more people thought he could do something because his family deals with oil??? IDK about that one.  Anyone who actually studies something like that should see that it is supply/demand and futures trading that effect gas prices.  However it is much easier to follow whatever the flavor of the day is in the news.

stormcris
by Christy on May. 14, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Perhaps if one asked more questions it would help to solve the issue. How can he or why can't he? Then do you want that to be true. The thing about truth in politics is that the issues such as gas are reflective of the beliefs of where the nation stands. Can the president do something about the gas prices depends on what you consider doing something to mean? Both sides can state the polar opposite answer and still be right. 

jewels5525
by Gold Member on May. 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM


Quoting stormcris:

Perhaps if one asked more questions it would help to solve the issue. How can he or why can't he? Then do you want that to be true. The thing about truth in politics is that the issues such as gas are reflective of the beliefs of where the nation stands. Can the president do something about the gas prices depends on what you consider doing something to mean? Both sides can state the polar opposite answer and still be right. 

Interesting and excelent point.  

Citygirlk
by Gold Member on May. 14, 2012 at 2:33 PM
Ive been saying this ever since I joined this group.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN