The Science of Truthiness
: Conservative beliefs make a lot more sense when you’re not paying attention.
This may explain a few things, pointing out several areas of recent research:
Newman, who works out of the University of California–Irvine, recently uncovered an unsettling precondition for truthiness: The less effort it takes to process a factual claim, the more accurate it seems.
Psychologists have found that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism. In a study by Scott Eidelman, Christian Crandall, and others, volunteers were placed in situations that, by forcing them to multitask or to answer questions under time pressure, required them to fall back on intellectual shortcuts. They were then polled about issues such as free trade, private property, and social welfare. Time after time, participants were more likely to espouse conservative ideals when they turned off their deliberative mental circuits. In the most wondrous setup, the researchers measured the political leanings of a group of bar patrons against their blood alcohol levels, predicting that as the beer flowed, so too would the Republican talking points. They were correct, it turns out. Drunkenness is a tax on cognitive capacity; when we’re taxed too much, we really do veer right.
Motivated social cognition theory states that right-wing political beliefs arise from a need to manage uncertainty and threat. A 2014 study from Rice University showed that self-identified Republicans responded more intensely and fearfully than liberals to negative stimuli (pictures of burning houses or maggot-infested wounds); even in neutral settings, brain scans revealed increased activity in the neural corridors that react to danger.