New scientific research has revealed that liberals – like conservatives – are just as likely to avoid opinions they dislike.
Research has exploded the popularly held view that people with a liberal stance on political issues are more rational than their conservative counterparts. Two new studies have revealed that bias is one of the few issues that gets bipartisan support.
The snappily titled paper, Liberals and conservatives are similarly motivated to avoid exposure to one another’s opinions’, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that liberals were just as averse to listening to opposing viewpoints on controversial issues as their conservative counterparts.
The aversion applied to issues such as same-sex marriage, elections, marijuana, climate change, guns and abortion.
Interestingly, the researchers found that around two out of every three people gave up a chance to win extra money so they could avoid hearing opinions that differ from their own.
A separate paper,At Least Bias Is Bipartisan: A Meta-Analytic Comparison of Partisan Bias in Liberals and Conservatives, which is actually a combination of 41 studies, reached the same conclusion, finding no difference in partisanship between liberals and conservatives.
In an article in the New Scientist, science writer Alex Berezow uses the example of progressive bastion Seattle to explode some of the myths surrounding liberals’ supposed love of science and rational thinking. Berezow notes that Seattle children have a lower polio vaccination rate than Rwanda and only five states have a lower MMR vaccination rate than Washington.
“If liberalism translated into embracing science, we would expect places like Seattle to have vaccination rates of 100 per cent,” Berezow says. He notes that the city also rejects GMOs and other facets of biotechnology.
Berezow argues that the rise of partisan news outlets and social media has contributed to a narrowing in the range of opinions people are exposed to because it enables people to create alternative realities “full of self-reinforcing platitudes and free of any pesky information that might upset fragile world views.”