Cognitive Reflection and the 2016 US Presidential Election
Forthcoming in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
46 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2018 Last revised: 21 May 2018
Date Written: January 26, 2018
We present a large exploratory study (N = 15,001) investigating the relationship between cognitive reflection and political affiliation, ideology, and voting in the 2016 Presidential Election. We find that Trump voters are less reflective than Clinton voters or third-party voters. However, much (although not all) of this difference was driven by Democrats who chose Trump. Among Republicans, conversely, Clinton and Trump voters were similar whereas third-party voters were more reflective. Furthermore, although Democrats/liberals were somewhat more reflective than Republicans/conservatives overall, political moderates and non-voters were least reflective whereas Libertarians were most reflective. Thus, beyond the previously theorized correlation between analytic thinking and liberalism, these data suggest three additional consequences of reflectiveness (or lack thereof) for political cognition: 1) Facilitating political apathy versus engagement, 2) Supporting the adoption of orthodoxy versus heterodoxy, and 3) Drawing individuals toward candidates who share their cognitive style, and towards policy proposals which are intuitively compelling.
Keywords: Political Ideology; 2016 Election; Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton; Cognitive Reflection; Analytic Thinking; Intuition; Dual Process Theory
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