Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro is fond of saying, “facts don’t care about your feelings,” a quip that implies that empirical data is more important than anecdotal evidence. Yet a recent psychological study suggests that conservatives, not liberals, are far more apt to let their feelings to get in the way of accepting facts.
In a paper published in the journal Political Psychology in October, researchers from Cal Poly Pomona and Eureka College describe a pair of studies that they conducted to determine if there is a connection between a person’s political ideology and their willingness to accept scientific and non-scientific views on non-political subjects. Their goal was to assess how people feel not just toward scientists but also “nonexpert” voices. They allowed the surveyed individuals to either rate one higher than the other, or argue that “both sides” were equal.
The researchers then conducted a pair of studies in 2018 in which participants, after being screened based on their political philosophy, “read a supposed article excerpt where a researcher was quoted as debunking a popular misconception. An alternative viewpoint followed, rejecting the researcher’s viewpoint.”
The authors of the paper found that, although conservatives and liberals both reported more favorable views of the science researcher than the rejecter, conservatives were more likely to think both sides were closer in legitimacy. They also found that in general conservatives held a less favorable view of the expert than liberals and a more favorable view of the rejecter than liberals.
Why are conservatives more likely to