America’s tradition of anti-intellectualism puts a low premium on careful thinking, allowing the substitution of slogans for analysis. The current presidential campaign should be evidence enough of how true this is.
But there is another reason for resistance to careful thinking; it can be difficult and distressing, especially if it leads to conclusions that are uncomfortable or contrary to our current beliefs.
Scientists say there’s a tension in the brain between responding to new information and resisting overwhelming amounts of conflicting data—and the latter can prevent opinion change.
Altering opinion depends on using different psychological methods tailored to different types of belief.… ‘There’s not much convincing people,’ even when the beliefs in question are purely false, says psychiatrist Philip Corlett of Yale University School of Medicine.
It’s a lot easier to seek confirmation than information.
So not only does the online world provide less information, it provides more spin and distortion of that information from an online empire of advocates that enables us as never before to find the voices we agree with, and to ignore anybody else.
As cognitive dissonance theory would predict, people tend to avoid information that is dissonant with their current beliefs and seek consonant information …, especially when they are already committed to a particular position … and/or the information is self-relevant. [Citations in original] *
We … [confront] a previously unacknowledged factor that may contribute to the perpetuation of environmental apathy and inaction, namely, the motivated tendency to justify the status quo, especially in the face of threat. Confronting global warming and environmental destruction requires facing up to serious threat, not only because of the scope and unpredictability of the projected disasters but also because they pose a challenge to the very foundations of our socioeconomic system. This threat may stimulate defensive, system-justifying responses and, therefore, continued indifference and exploitation with respect to the natural environment, rather than commitment to recognizing and remedying the problem. (Citations in original)
The management of uncertainty is served by resistance to change insofar as change (by its very nature) upsets existing realities and is fraught with epistemic insecurity. *
The researchers found that being intolerant of ambiguity is associated with such conservative characteristics as unwavering certainty and strong loyalty to particular people and positions.
Conservatives don’t feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions. They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white.…