Liberals are less open-minded than conservatives, according to the new study

Liberals are three times more biased when evaluating their opponents than conservatives are, according to a new study in the Journal of Social Psychology. This runs totally counter to the widespread belief that conservatives are less open-minded and more prejudiced than liberals.

The researchers behind the study wanted to test the popular hypothesis that conservatives are more prone to prejudice and have a greater inclination to authoritarianism than liberals.

“It has become clear that the ideological divide in the United States is growing and that people are becoming more polarized in their beliefs,” explains study author Robert D. Ridge, an associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University.

“Ideological asymmetry is the notion that conservatives are more prejudicial than liberals, but the worldview conflict hypothesis suggests that conservatives and liberals can be equally prejudiced toward those with different worldviews and values.”

“I wanted to pit these two theories against each other to see who would be more likely to aggress indirectly against a person who held an ideology different than theirs. I wanted to see if simply posting support on social media for a conservative or liberal position would be sufficient to elicit indirect aggression from a person with a different ideology in a domain that is completely unrelated to politics.”

The researchers created an experiment where participants were asked to evaluate political memes shared on social media. They were told the memes had been shared by candidates looking for a job. Participants did not know that they were being evaluated for their own political biases.

In particular, the researchers wanted to see how the content of the memes affected the perception of the person who shared them. That included the extent to which the perceiver felt aggressive feelings towards the person who shared the memes based on their implied political beliefs.

As expected, conservatives and liberals both assessed content that aligned with their own beliefs favourably, and content that didn’t, negatively.

However, the different in assessments was much greater among liberals, who assessed conservatives three times as harshly as conservatives assessed liberals.

“I was very surprised that the level of liberal bias against conservatives was nearly three times greater than was conservative bias toward liberals,” Ridge Added.

“This is directly the opposite of what ideological asymmetry would predict. I was also surprised that given this result, liberal participants claimed that conservatives were much more prejudiced than liberals, whereas conservatives did not attribute any more prejudice to liberals than to conservatives. This is contrary to much popular opinion about liberals and conservatives in popular media and in the empirical literature.”

The researchers have already conducted further research on the subject, which will be published soon. They’ve discovered that liberals are more likely to view subtle clues to conservative affiliation in job resumés as an excuse to “torpedo” an individual’s chances of getting a job.

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