"UA Study Shows Stark Differences in How Conservatives, Liberals See Data" | UA News
Conservatives are less interested than liberals in viewing novel scientific data, according to a psychology researcher at The University of Alabama.
Dr. Alexa Tullett, assistant professor of psychology at UA, recently conducted the project, titled “Is ideology the enemy of inquiry? Examining the link between political orientation and lack of interest in novel data.” The article will be published in the Journal of Research and Personality in August.
In three separate studies, Tullett and colleagues offered participants in both the Deep South and West Coast a chance to view data on three topics: the justness of the world, the efficacy of social safety nets and the benefits of social media. Participants were given no advanced knowledge of what the data would tell them. Tullett found that conservatives were less interested in viewing empirical data than liberals in all three studies. Moreover, conservatives were more skeptical about the value of science compared with liberals. These differences suggest that conservatives and liberals may differ with respect to the kinds of information they find persuasive in the context of political debate, Tullett said.
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“When we originally found the relationship between political orientation and disinterest in this information, I expected that it would be because conservatives were more likely to think the data would undermine their views. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. It just seems that they are less optimistic than liberals about how much scientific data can teach us.”
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