Equalitarianism: A Source of Liberal Bias
89 Pages Posted: 22 May 2018 Last revised: 4 Oct 2018
Date Written: May 8, 2018
Recent scholarship has challenged the long-held assumption in the social sciences that Conservatives are more biased than Liberals, contending that the predominance of Liberals in social science may have caused social scientists to ignore liberal bias. Here, we demonstrate that Liberals are particularly prone to bias about victims’ groups (e.g. Blacks, Muslims, women) and identify a trait that consistently predicts this bias. This trait, termed Equalitarianism, stems from an aversion to inequality and is comprised of three interrelated assumptions: (1) demographic groups do not differ biologically; (2) prejudice is ubiquitous; (3) society can, and should, make all groups equal in society. This leads to bias against information that portrays a perceived privileged group more favorably than a perceived victims’ group. Eight studies (n=3,274) support this theory. Liberalism was associated with perceiving certain groups as victims (Studies 1a-1b). In Studies 2-7, Liberals evaluated the same study as less credible when the results concluded that a privileged group (men and Whites) had a superior quality relative to a victims’ group (women and Blacks) than vice versa. Ruling out alternative explanations of Bayesian (or other normative) reasoning, significant order effects in within-subjects designs in Studies 6 and 7 suggest that Liberals think that they should not evaluate identical information differently depending on which group is said to have a superior quality, yet do so. In all studies, higher equalitarianism mediated the relationship between more liberal ideology and lower credibility ratings when privileged groups were said to score higher on a socially valuable trait.
Keywords: political psychology, political bias, liberal bias, motivated cognition, egalitarianism
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