The Cognitive Costs of Being an Ideological Misfit

Motyl, Matthew, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Nosek, Brian, University of Virginia
Trawalter, Sophie, Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, University of Virginia
Haidt, Jon, Stern School of Business, New York University

An impressive quantity of data suggests that ideologically conservative individuals are more closed-minded and cognitively rigid than ideologically liberal individuals are (Jost et al., 2003). Yet, the vast majority of the work supporting this conclusion was conducted in communities where ideological conservatives are in the numerical minority. The current dissertation project examines whether being in the numerical minority, rather than being ideologically conservative, fosters increased cognitive rigidity. I investigated this in 3 studies. In Studies 1 and 2, I examined large archival national samples of liberals and conservatives who lived in communities that varied in their degree of conservatism and who completed self-report measures of cognitive style. In Studies 3a and 3b, I experimentally manipulated a sense of ideological misfit and then assessed self-reported cognitive rigidity in addition to nonverbal behavioral rigidity and verbal rigidity. Across studies, ideological misfit predicted greater cognitive rigidity. Yet, ideological conservatism also corresponded with greater cognitive rigidity. This finding suggests that misfit accounts for part, but not all, of the relationship between conservatism and cognitive rigidity. Rather, ideological misfit and ideological conservatism each uniquely predict cognitive rigidity.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
social psychology, political psychology, conservatism, cognitive rigidity, rigidity of the right, ideology, cognition
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