‘Low-Effort Thought’ Promotes Political Conservatism, Study Suggests

A new study has linked conservative ideology with “low effort thinking. According to study lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman, “People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response.”

Researchers have discovered that low-effort thought, which takes over as people's blood-alcohol level increases or when they're forced to quickly process information, boosted their penchant for politically conservative views. Photo: Albert Milliron/Flickr

Conservatives and liberals don’t seem to agree about much. They may also not agree about recent studies linking conservatism to low intelligence and ‘low-effort’ thinking, reports The Huff Post.

“People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response,” the study’s lead author, University of Arkansas psychologist Dr. Scott Eidelman, said in a written statement released by the university.

So, next time you knock back a few drinks or find yourself rushed to provide a political opinion, don’t be surprised if your beliefs skew on the conservative side.

According to MSN, the researchers have discovered that low-effort thought, which takes over as people’s blood-alcohol level increases or when they’re forced to quickly process information, boosted their penchant for politically conservative views.

For the study, a team of psychologists led by Dr. Eidelman asked people about their political view points while sitting in a bar and then in a laboratory. Individuals at the bar were asked about social issues. Then, they were asked to blow into a Breathalyzer.

Analysis of results showed that political viewpoints of bar patrons with high blood alcohol levels tended to be more conservative than those of bar patrons with low blood alcohol levels.

The researchers, however, tested the hypothesis that it was not alcohol that was making the high blood alcohol level patrons express conservative views, by conducting a similar interview in the lab. They found that when people were asked to evaluate political ideas quickly, or while they were distracted, they were more likely to express conservative view points.

The researchers concluded that “low-effort thought, which takes over as people’s blood-alcohol level increases” also takes over “when they’re forced to quickly process information,” and it “boosted their penchant for politically conservative views.” According to the study, increased “cognitive load” made people more conservative, “implying our brains can only handle so much before they eschew liberal ideologies.”

“Keeping people from thinking too much…or just asking them to deliberate or consider information in a cursory manner can impact people’s political attitudes, and in a way that consistently promotes political conservatism,” Dr. Eidelman said in the email to The Huffington Post.

Does the result of the study suggest that conservatives are lazy thinkers? “Not quite,” Dr. Eidelman said. “Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking.”

Together these data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases. The study was published online in the journal “Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,” a scientific research journal.

The Huffington Post also compared the study with a recent study reported in February, and published in the journal “Psychological Science,” that showed that children who scored low on intelligence tests tended to grow up into adults with conservative political views. It was suggested that this may be because “conservative ideologies stress ‘structure and order’ that make it easier to understand a complicated world.”

One comment on Drudge.com summarizes the essential point of the study conclusions: “In other news, thinking is a monumental effort to the likes of Skizmarks.” The study, as expected, has provoked angry reactions from conservatives.

Here’s another comment from Drudge.com: “LMAO! Funny stuff. They spend the evening in bars, spending someone else’ money of course, and as they get drunk and their minds get wasted they come up with the conclusions reported in their ‘findings.’ Only liberals would publish this crap. Next up is their report on how LSD can really enlighten their minds.”

But many liberals are evidently pleased with the scientific backing for the suggestion are liberals are ‘smarter’ than conservatives. A comment by user “Danni” on Drugde.com, read: “Just more proof that talking points substitute for information among most conservatives.”

“The simplest argument is their favorite regardless if it is correct. You can even correct them over and over but they will continue to repeat the simplest talking points. They can’t or won’t learn, probably some of both.”

What do you think? Are conservatives less intelligent than liberals – or more intelligent? And is conservatism a matter of lazy thinking? Tell us in the comments below.

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