Your Gray Matter Doesn't Like Gray Areas

The Washington Post reports on the Brain Science of partisanship:

Psychological experiments in recent years have shown that people are not evenhanded when they process information, even though they believe they are. (When people are asked whether they are biased, they say no. But when asked whether they think other people are biased, they say yes.) Partisans who watch presidential debates invariably think their guy won. When talking heads provide opinions after the debate, partisans regularly feel the people with whom they agree are making careful, reasoned arguments, whereas the people they disagree with sound like they have cloth for brains.

Unvaryingly, partisans also believe that partisans on the other side are far more ideologically extreme than they actually are, said Stanford University psychologist Mark Lepper, who has studied how people watch presidential debates.
The exception being this blogger. I'm always perfectly even-handed and staggeringly fair. My positions are purely derived from careful logic and painstaking examination of facts.

Kidding aside, this is one of those things that seems so natural after it's been identified. This is why we blog. This is why you're crazy Fundie family members always bring up immigration and try to goad you into an argument. The ideological jousting makes them feel good.
Turns out, rather than turning down their negative feelings ... partisans turn up their negative emotional response when they see a photo of the opposing candidate, said Jonas Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In other words, without knowing it themselves, the partisans were jealously guarding against anything that might lower their antagonism. Turning up negative feelings, of course, is a good way to make sure your antagonism stays strong and healthy.

"My feeling is, in the political process, people come to decisions early on and then spend the rest of the time making themselves feel good about their decision," Kaplan said.
And all those millions of dollars spent trying to convince people to vote for this candidate or that candidate six days before the election.

One wonders if political campaigns really come down to coming up with the pretties wrapping for your candidate - an attempt to ensnare those least interested and least informed about politics to vote for your candidate, breaking the pre-existing 45% -45% partisan split.

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