On SAGE Insight: Analytic thought increases support for liberal policies

Article title: Hong Kong liberals are more analytical: Analytic thought increases support for liberal policies

From Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Society for Personality and Social Psychology

This study tests whether liberals and conservatives in the same country process information about the world as if they were from different cultures. Then it tests whether temporarily changing people’s cultural thought style changes their attitudes about political issues.

It found that social liberals think more analytically than conservatives in Hong Kong, and inducing cultural analytic thought increases support for liberal social policies. In contrast, inducing holistic thought style decreases support for liberal social policies. The effect was large enough to flip from 31% supporting the policy in the holistic thought condition to 66% support in the analytic condition.

A lot of prior research in psychology has framed conservatism as a cognitive flaw–conservatives are “cognitively rigid,” “dogmatic,” or low on “integrative complexity.” This study demonstrates differences not as flaws, but as differences in cultural thought style–and that these thought style differences can actually causally influence people’s political attitudes.

Abstract

This study tests whether liberals and conservatives within the same society think as if they were from different cultures. I tested this by measuring the cultural thought style of social liberals and conservatives in Hong Kong (Study 1). Liberals tended to think more analytically (more “WEIRD”), and conservatives tended to think more holistically (more common in East Asia). In Study 2, I trained people to think analytically or holistically before they read articles on political issues. Analytic thought caused people to form more liberal opinions, and holistic thought caused people to form more conservative opinions. The thought training affected participants’ responses to a social issue, but not an economic issue or whether they identified as liberal or conservative. This study replicates a previous U.S. finding in an East Asian culture and a different political environment, suggesting that the link between politics and thought style extends beyond the United States.

Read the full article here

Article details
Hong Kong Liberals Are WEIRD: Analytic Thought Increases Support for Liberal Policies
Thomas Talhelm
First Published January 17, 2018
DOI:10.1177/0146167217746151
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

 

     
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