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Conservatives Are Just Lazy Thinkers (New Research Suggests)

March 29, 2012

Lazy GOP catThis is fascinating: New research suggests that, “when under time pressure or otherwise cognitively impaired, people are more likely to express conservative views.”

The study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, tested responses from participants as their thinking was challenged, first by alcohol, then by multi-tasking distractions, time constraints, and finally by instructions to basically not even think at all.

The results from all four experiments showed that the less thinking involved, the more conservative the participants’ expressed views would be. So: upshots and implications?

For one thing, while it may not be surprising, it is important to note that conservative thinking (an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo) seems to be our  ‘default’ setting.  This makes perfect sense: to even consider challenges to the status quo requires effort.

Unfortunately, as the researchers explain:

Without the means or motive to override an initial impulse that promotes conservative ideology, the political scales may be tipped toward the right of center and may provide a contributing explanation for what has been described as a conservative bias in American politics.

For those of us hoping for progress, this demonstrates an obvious problem: as Americans become increasingly more distracted (by mobile apps, 1001 cable channels, long hard hours of unpaid overtime…) it becomes more difficult to simply expend the energy to think and thus embrace more liberal views.

Of course, the researchers also found:

And when care, consideration, and cogitation increases, we find that endorsement of political conservatism decreases. These findings were again limited to conservatism; there were no comparable or contrastive effects found for political liberalism. There seems to be something unique about the ideological content of political conservatism and its relation to low-effort thought.

So what’s the good news here for progressives and liberals? Bragging rights.  Hey, conservatives! Who’s lazy now?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2012 3:40 pm

    People who get their news Fox New actually know less about the news than those who watch no news shows. Es verdad! Let Cance Dagger throw more light on the subject for you at

  2. April 13, 2012 6:52 am

    Just turn Rush on your radio any weekday and you will see how true this study is,remember you cant fix stupid.

    • April 23, 2012 8:57 am

      Limbaugh’s appeal to conservatives is based on the fact that he has a knack for making stupid people feel smart. I’ve been saying this for years.

  3. suetiggers permalink
    April 11, 2012 7:05 am

    If you know what the Republicans have been trying to do to the economy since 1981 then you know they have been doing everything in their power to bring us to the brink of economic collapse so they could finally be in a position to even suggest anything like the Ryan budget. if you don’t know about their “starve the beast” strategy you really aren’t in a position to comment. You can do a search and find out why the we went from $1 trillion in debt for our first 205 years and $14 trillion in the next 31. It hasn’t been by accident

  4. twom permalink
    April 11, 2012 6:27 am

    What a surprise… That this story is in the Huffington Post.

    Our schools are being “dumb-down” by liberal effects on the education system. I recently went to a pizza parlor where all six people (ages 17-24) could not figure the 6% tax without a calculator.

    I have a 164 IQ.

    I am in the top .023% (99.977 percentile).

    Most of the people I graduated college with are Republicans – and they can tell you what 6% tax on a $11.50 pizza is!

    It is obvious that this story came out now, in election season, in a lame attempt to sway insecure voters.

    Just to add one more aspect to this. I have many friends that are Black, Gay, Hispanic,… The only group of people that those of us on the Right don’t like, are those that don’t take responsibility for themselves and their actions. Otherwise we could care less who someone is, where they are from, or what their orientations are.

    One more point. Several years ago I learned the amount that Al Gore donated to charity, the same time that I was just two years out of college. I was a recent college grad, and I donated more to charity than the Vice President had donated. I was absolutely nauseated by this. What a pathetic, two-faced, fraud he is.

    When it comes to helping this country, and helping the people of this country, I would put the character, integrity, honor, and honesty of any recent Republican President (and JFK, also) – over the pandering, self-serving, dishonorable, “economy-ruining”, lump-of-crap we currently have in the White House (and no, it is not because he is Black. I was proud of that fact when he was elected. I still hoped he would take us in the correct direction. That he would actually be like JFK – not just spew slogans saying he was).


    • suetiggers permalink
      April 11, 2012 7:01 am

      The American Economy: Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It

      1. The economy is not simple, but it is also drastically underregulated and getting more chaotic ( so-called “freer”) all the time. (capitalism on steriods)

      2. There is no minority party. As Gore Vidal has pointed out, “we have one party with two right wings.”

      3. Most of the people have withdrawn from politics because they correctly perceive it as the domain of bought-and-paid-for sociopaths and liars.

      4. There is indeed an enormous amount of racism loaded into the American system, redlining and segregated school funding formulas (“local control”) being the two most egregious and damaging examples.

      5. There IS a conspiracy and it’s led by the investment class against everyone else.

      6. The media is astoundingly biased in favor of corporatism, on every issue and in every conceivable way.

      Senate Republicans Vote Unanimously Against Bill To Help Guarantee Fair Pay For Women

    • freethoughtmom permalink
      July 29, 2012 4:35 pm

      twom, ‘Our schools are being “dumb-down [sic]” by liberal effects [sic]’? Yeah. Did ‘all six people’ include you? (Six people spending $11.50 for pizza??) Yeah. Thanks for posting, Cassandra, I think twom made your point. xxoo

    • July 29, 2012 5:02 pm

      That must be why the Texas GOP was specifically against teaching higher order and critical thinking skills. You know, the things which let people make informed decisions based on the information they have on hand, or failing that, seek out relevant information on their own. Their reasons for doing this? To avoid having their children question authority or what their parents teach them.

      In short: your party is the party of trying to bullshit people through ignorance.

  5. anony permalink
    April 10, 2012 7:09 am

    Explains why conservatives have turned our public education system into a joke, where students graduate high school able to fill in bubbles, but otherwise barely literate and completely lacking critical thinking skills or any understanding of statistics or the scientific method. (Ask any long-time college professor about what has happened to their incoming freshmen since No Child Left Behind.) If you pay attention, you will notice that the right wing foundations are going after higher education now too, trying to turn it into vocational school. It’s great for them, since their core constituency is people with no critical thinking skills who can’t reason based on evidence. What do they care that this will also tank our economy and our democracy I don’t know how you build an educational system back up, once it has been demolished. Even if we decide that we want to rebuild our schools, we will soon have nobody left to teach in them.

  6. suetiggers permalink
    April 9, 2012 8:33 pm

    makes sense….but it’s scary….look at where we are politically right now

  7. April 9, 2012 8:37 am

    Conservatives always respond with the “sound bite” answer. They almost never ask the next question or follow up question to have a thoughtful discussion. That is why so many people are Conservative. It is just easier that critical thinking. Someone else told then what to think rather than think for themselves

  8. dtrett permalink
    March 29, 2012 1:05 pm

    they should also mention the study that gay men are the most intelligent! Case in point: obama is a bisexual man who epitamizes intelligence and the insight to lead this nation unlike the stinking conservatives who have no brains and who are 100percent homophobic!!!

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