Knowledge, Attitudes, and Biased Evaluation of Science: Testing the Expertise Paradox

Posted: 29 Sep 2017

Date Written: September 27, 2017

Abstract

Biased assimilation occurs when people readily accept attitude-consistent information, but scrutinize attitude-inconsistent information. This tendency is especially troubling when people evaluate scientific information about controversial issues. Previous studies have found expertise to be associated with stronger biases (a phenomenon termed the “expertise paradox”), but it is unclear what aspects of expertise may be responsible for exacerbating biased evaluations of information. To address this gap, a large-scale, internet-based survey was developed to examine the relationship between biased evaluations of scientific research and multiple aspects of expertise. Neither domain-specific knowledge, cognitive ability, education, nor cognitive style related to biased evaluations. Only strong attitudes and self-proclaimed knowledge were consistently related to more biased evaluations. Reasons why experts appear to be more biased in their judgments and evaluations are discussed, along with implications for how political elites make evidence-based policy decisions.

Keywords: Motivated Reasoning, Bias, Attitudes, Knowledge, Expertise, Science

Suggested Citation

Liu, Brittany, Knowledge, Attitudes, and Biased Evaluation of Science: Testing the Expertise Paradox (September 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3043880

Brittany Liu (Contact Author)

Kalamazoo College

1200 Academy Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
United States

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