Thursday, February 23, 2017

Scientific curiosity counters politically motivated reasoning.

Jasny points to work by Kahan et al. (open source) showing that science curiosity (of the sort shown by MindBlog readers!) promotes open-minded engagement with information that is contrary to individuals’ political predispositions. Jasny's summary:
Knowledge does not always change biases, and people tend to absorb information that fits their prejudices. However, rather than studying scientific knowledge, Kahan et al. studied scientific curiosity—the tendency to look for and consume scientific information for pleasure. Two sets of subjects, including several thousand people, were given questions about their interests and activities. Reactions to documentaries and to news stories that contained surprising or unsurprising material were also tracked. The more scientifically curious people were (regardless of their politics), the less likely they were to show signs of politically motivated reasoning. People with higher curiosity ratings were more willing to look at surprising information that conflicted with their political tendencies than people with lower ratings.

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