Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing

Advances in Political Psychology, Forthcoming

Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 561

25 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2016 Last revised: 7 Oct 2016

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School

Asheley R Landrum

Annenberg Public Policy Center

Katie Carpenter

Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School

Laura Helft

Howard Hughes Medical Institute - Tangled Bank Studios

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: August 1, 2016

Abstract

This paper describes evidence suggesting that science curiosity counteracts politically biased information processing. This finding is in tension with two bodies of research. The first casts doubt on the existence of “curiosity” as a measurable disposition. The other suggests that individual differences in cognition related to science comprehension - of which science curiosity, if it exists, would presumably be one - do not mitigate politically biased information processing but instead aggravate it. The paper describes the scale-development strategy employed to overcome the problems associated with measuring science curiosity. It also reports data, observational and experimental, showing that science curiosity promotes open-minded engagement with information that is contrary to individuals’ political predispositions. We conclude by identifying a series of concrete research questions posed by these results.

Keywords: politically motivated reasoning, curiosity, science communication, risk perception

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M. and Landrum, Asheley R and Carpenter, Katie and Helft, Laura and Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing (August 1, 2016). Advances in Political Psychology, Forthcoming; Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 561. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816803

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan

Asheley R Landrum

Annenberg Public Policy Center ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://asheleylandrum.com

Katie Carpenter

Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall St
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Laura Helft

Howard Hughes Medical Institute - Tangled Bank Studios ( email )

4000 Jones Bridge Road
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6789
United States

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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