The hidden appeal and aversion to political conspiracies as revealed in the response dynamics of partisans

Nicholas Duran, Stephen P. Nicholson, Rick Dale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this study, we used a mouse-tracking paradigm to capture subtle processing dynamics that may occur when people spontaneously endorse or disavow political conspiracies. Rather than exclusively focus on explicit, endpoint responses, we examined the underlying temptation to respond opposite of what is overtly reported. Our results revealed such tendencies in participants' arm movements as they provided "true" or "false" answers to political conspiracy statements relative to baseline statements. These effects were strongly modulated by whether participants identified with the Republican or Democratic parties. To interpret our findings, we argue that political conspiracies tap into hidden biases that may be at odds with each other, such that, even for nonbelievers of a particular conspiracy, there is an implicit appeal for ideologically-aligned conspiracies driven by motivated reasoning biases, and for believers, an implicit aversion to the same conspiracies driven by accuracy and self-presentation needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

Keywords

  • Action dynamics
  • Attitude expression
  • Implicit attitudes
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Need for accuracy
  • Political beliefs
  • Political conspiracies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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