Skip to content
Journal article

Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs

Taber C, Lodge M ...see all

American Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, issue 3 (2006) pp. 755-769

  • 526

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 655

    Citations

    Citations of this article.
  • N/A

    Views

    ScienceDirect users who have downloaded this article.
Sign in to save reference

Abstract

We propose a model of motivated skepticism that helps explain when and why citizens are biased-information processors. Two experimental studies explore how citizens evaluate arguments about affirmative action and gun control, finding strong evidence ofa prior attitude effect such that attitudinally congruent arguments are evaluated as stronger than attitudinally incongruent arguments. When reading pro and con arguments, participants (Ps) counterargue the contrary arguments and uncritically accept supporting arguments, evidence of a disconfirmation bias. We also find a confirmation bias- the seeking out of confirmatory evidence-when Ps are free to self-select the source of the arguments they read. Both the confirmation and disconfirmation biases lead to attitude polarization-the strengthening oft2 over t attitudes-especially among those with the strongest priors and highest levels of political sophistication. We conclude with a discussion of the normative implications of these findings for rational behavior in a democracy

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

  • Charles S. Taber

  • Milton Lodge

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below