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False beliefs and confabulation can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes

Strandberg, Thomas LU ; Sivén, David LU ; Hall, Lars LU ; Johansson, Petter LU and Pärnamets, Philip LU (2018) In Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 147(9). p.1382-1399
Abstract

In times of increasing polarization and political acrimony, fueled by distrust of government and media disinformation, it is ever more important to understand the cognitive mechanisms behind political attitude change. In two experiments, we present evidence that false beliefs about one's own prior attitudes and confabulatory reasoning can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes. In Experiment 1 (N = 140), participants stated their opinions about salient political issues, and using the Choice Blindness Paradigm we covertly altered some of their responses to indicate an opposite position. In the first condition, we asked the participants to immediately verify the manipulated responses, and in the second, we also asked them to... (More)

In times of increasing polarization and political acrimony, fueled by distrust of government and media disinformation, it is ever more important to understand the cognitive mechanisms behind political attitude change. In two experiments, we present evidence that false beliefs about one's own prior attitudes and confabulatory reasoning can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes. In Experiment 1 (N = 140), participants stated their opinions about salient political issues, and using the Choice Blindness Paradigm we covertly altered some of their responses to indicate an opposite position. In the first condition, we asked the participants to immediately verify the manipulated responses, and in the second, we also asked them to provide underlying arguments behind their attitudes. Only half of the manipulations were corrected by the participants. To measure lasting attitude change, we asked the participants to rate the same issues again later in the experiment, as well as one week after the first session. Participants in both conditions exhibited lasting shifts in attitudes, but the effect was considerably larger in the group that confabulated supporting arguments. We fully replicated these findings in Experiment 2 (N = 232). In addition, we found that participants' analytical skill correlated with their correction of the manipulation, whereas political involvement did not. This study contributes to the understanding of how confabulatory reasoning and self-perceptive processes can interact in lasting attitude change. It also highlights how political expressions can be both stable in the context of everyday life, yet flexible when argumentative processes are engaged.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Attitude change, Confabulation, False beliefs, Political psychology, Reasoning
in
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
volume
147
issue
9
pages
18 pages
publisher
American Psychological Association Inc.
external identifiers
  • scopus:85053521964
  • scopus:85058376964
ISSN
0096-3445
DOI
10.1037/xge0000489.supp
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d34403f8-2ec1-41d6-9b7c-91de8f93cc30
date added to LUP
2018-10-12 09:38:10
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:31:20
@article{d34403f8-2ec1-41d6-9b7c-91de8f93cc30,
  abstract     = {<p>In times of increasing polarization and political acrimony, fueled by distrust of government and media disinformation, it is ever more important to understand the cognitive mechanisms behind political attitude change. In two experiments, we present evidence that false beliefs about one's own prior attitudes and confabulatory reasoning can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes. In Experiment 1 (N = 140), participants stated their opinions about salient political issues, and using the Choice Blindness Paradigm we covertly altered some of their responses to indicate an opposite position. In the first condition, we asked the participants to immediately verify the manipulated responses, and in the second, we also asked them to provide underlying arguments behind their attitudes. Only half of the manipulations were corrected by the participants. To measure lasting attitude change, we asked the participants to rate the same issues again later in the experiment, as well as one week after the first session. Participants in both conditions exhibited lasting shifts in attitudes, but the effect was considerably larger in the group that confabulated supporting arguments. We fully replicated these findings in Experiment 2 (N = 232). In addition, we found that participants' analytical skill correlated with their correction of the manipulation, whereas political involvement did not. This study contributes to the understanding of how confabulatory reasoning and self-perceptive processes can interact in lasting attitude change. It also highlights how political expressions can be both stable in the context of everyday life, yet flexible when argumentative processes are engaged.</p>},
  author       = {Strandberg, Thomas and Sivén, David and Hall, Lars and Johansson, Petter and Pärnamets, Philip},
  issn         = {0096-3445},
  keyword      = {Attitude change,Confabulation,False beliefs,Political psychology,Reasoning},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {9},
  pages        = {1382--1399},
  publisher    = {American Psychological Association Inc.},
  series       = { Journal of Experimental Psychology: General},
  title        = {False beliefs and confabulation can lead to lasting changes in political attitudes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000489.supp},
  volume       = {147},
  year         = {2018},
}