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Saturday, June 1, 2024

Political ideology and environmentalism impair logical reasoning

Keller, L., Hazelaar, F., et al. (2023).
Thinking & Reasoning, 1–30.


People are more likely to think statements are valid when they agree with them than when they do not. We conducted four studies analyzing the interference of self-reported ideologies with performance in a syllogistic reasoning task. Study 1 established the task paradigm and demonstrated that participants’ political ideology affects syllogistic reasoning for syllogisms with political content but not politically irrelevant syllogisms. The preregistered Study 2 replicated the effect and showed that incentivizing accuracy did not alleviate these differences. Study 3 revealed that syllogistic reasoning is affected by ideology in the presence and absence of such bonus payments for correctly judging the conclusions’ logical validity. In Study 4, we observed similar effects regarding a different ideological orientation: environmentalism. Again, monetary bonuses did not attenuate these effects. Taken together, the results of four studies highlight the harm of ideology regarding people’s logical reasoning.

Here is my summary:

The research explores how pre-existing ideologies, both political and environmental, can influence how people evaluate logical arguments.  The findings suggest that people are more likely to judge arguments as valid if they align with their existing beliefs, regardless of the argument's actual logical structure. This bias was observed for both liberals and conservatives, and for those with strong environmental convictions. Offering financial rewards for accurate reasoning didn't eliminate this effect.