Doesn’t it feel like politics just make people unreasonable? Well, a new study shows that this isn’t just a feeling.
It shouldn’t be surprising that political beliefs wreak havoc. A consistent finding of cognitive psychology is that the things we believe to be true interfere with our ability to reason objectively about the world. Confirmation bias, probably the most well-known of the biases, is after all an error born of reasoning in a way that confirms the things we already believe.
Simply put, we want to be right about the world. We don’t want to think we made a mistake. This makes it really hard to change our minds, even when confronted with clear evidence that we are wrong.
But beliefs interfere in a way that goes beyond confirmation bias. The beliefs we hold also make it hard, fundamentally, to figure out what’s true and what isn’t.