The Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship presents
Dr. Chadly Stern (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.)
Who’s more confident: liberals, conservatives, or neither? An examination of confidence across the political spectrum
In recent years there has been considerable debate about the degree to which political liberals (those on the left) and conservatives (those on the right) possess distinct or similar psychological profiles. Although some researchers have observed nearly identical outcomes among liberals and conservatives on important psychological processes (e.g., motivated reasoning, selective exposure to information) these findings have primarily emerged in the context of contentious and highly charged political topics (e.g., gun control, abortion, federal elections). Less commonly addressed, however, are whether differences or similarities emerge in ideologically neutral contexts that are devoid of political content. Here, I discuss evidence that speaks to this understudied but critical question through exploring variation in confidence–the degree to which people feel that their beliefs and judgments are correct. I outline recent research examining whether and why confidence differences emerge between liberals and conservatives on tasks that lack political content (e.g., estimating numbers of dots), including judgments that hold immediate social relevance (e.g., categorizing a person’s race or gender). Finally, I discuss how seemingly disparate findings about confidence similarities and differences across the political spectrum can be reconciled. Collectively, this talk sheds light on when we might expect liberals, conservatives, or neither to more strongly hold confidence in their judgments about the world.