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Conservative Politics, 'Low-Effort' Thinking Linked In New Study

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 9/2012 10:44 am Updated: 04/ 9/2012 2:16 pm

Conservatives Lowthought

Conservatives and liberals don't seem to agree about much, and they might not agree about recent studies linking conservatism to low intelligence and "low-effort" thinking.

As The Huffington Post reported in February, a study published in the journal "Psychological Science" showed that children who score low on intelligence tests gravitate toward socially conservative political views in adulthood--perhaps because conservative ideologies stress "structure and order" that make it easier to understand a complicated world.

Ouch.

And now there's the new study linking conservative ideologies to "low-effort" thinking.

"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.

Does the finding suggest that conservatives are lazy thinkers?

"Not quite," Dr. Eidelman told The Huffington Post in an email. "Our research shows that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism, not that political conservatives use low-effort thinking."

For the study, a team of psychologists led by Dr. Eidelman asked people about their political viewpoints in a bar and in a laboratory setting.

Bar patrons were asked about social issues before blowing into a Breathalyzer. As it turned out, the political viewpoints of patrons with high blood alcohol levels were more likely to be conservative than were those of patrons whose blood alcohol levels were low.

But it wasn't just the alcohol talking, according to the statement. When the researchers conducted similar interviews in the lab, they found that people who were asked to evaluate political ideas quickly or while distracted were more likely to express conservative viewpoints.

"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.

The study was published online in the journal "Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin."

What do you think? Are conservatives less intelligent than liberals--or more intelligent? And is conservatism a matter of lazy thinking?

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Alabama scored a 4/10 for their science education standards, and earned a D grade. Shown here is the state capitol of Alabama, Montgomery (Getty Images).
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