Humans Default to Information that Supports their Preconceived Beliefs
The theory of motivated reasoning suggests that we seek out agreeable information and learn it more easily; and we avoid, ignore, devalue, forget, or argue against information that contradicts our beliefs.
Dec 4, 2020
Another way humans tend to reduce cognitive dissonance is through motivated reasoning. Similar to the confirmation bias, motivated reasoning describes the tendency for humans to find arguments in favor of preconceived conclusions stronger than arguments for conclusions they do not want to believe. And unlike the rational, unbiased approach of critical thinking, this theory explains how we form and cling to false beliefs in the face of substantial evidence to the contrary.
We tend to engage in this kind of thinking when faced with a threat to the self. These “threats” can come in several forms -- when our self-worth, our future, or our worldviews are at stake. When these triggers are not at stake, humans are often motivated to draw accurate conclusions.
For example, it's easier for ardent Trump supporters to downplay his inappropriate behavior towards women than it is to accept this information and adjust their opinion of him accordingly. Having already committed support publicly, their reputation is at stake and the need to construct a motivated reasoning is high.
Abby agrees with this fact based on:
Kunda, Z. (1990). The case for motivated reasoning. Psychological bulletin, 108(3), 480.
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