Many conservatives have actually said:
“I wouldn’t watch Rachel Maddow if you paid me.”
A new study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology tested this very question.
The study told people that they would get a chance to win $10 if they read an opposing opinion on a topic. They would get a chance to win $7 if they chose the opinion that they already agreed with. The given topic was same-sex marriage.
A whopping 63-percent of the participants chose to stick with what they already agreed with, even though the amount offered was higher for reading the opposing point of view.
Jeremy Frimer, the University of Winnipeg psychologist who led the study, says:
“They don’t know what’s going on the other side, and they don’t want to know.”
Is Hearing An Opposing View As Bad As Getting A Tooth Pulled?
The study authors asked participants to rate hearing opposing viewpoints compared to other activities such as watching paint dry or having a tooth pulled.
The participants didn’t rate listening to an opposing opinion to be as bad as getting a tooth pulled, but it was close.
The study concluded that people:
“… Are motivated to avoid hearing from the other side for some of the same reasons: the anticipation of cognitive dissonance and the undermining of a fundamental need for a shared reality with other people.”
The studies also concluded:
“Together with a growing body of evidence suggesting that increased knowledge and expertise in a topic area exacerbates rather than ameliorates political bias, the prognosis for eradicating partisan bias with harder data and better education does not seem particularly rosy.”
We need to find an answer to make opposing viewpoints easier to consume. Facebook can help in this arena. We have to do more than just delete factually inaccurate posts. Maybe it will take more than $3 extra to get people to listen to opposing viewpoints. This is a battle against the tendencies of the human brain.
Featured image via Twitter.