Home » News » Politicos Be Warned: Being Challenged Can Prompt Deeper Thinking
Politicos Be Warned: Being Challenged Can Prompt Deeper Thinking

Politicos Be Warned: Being Challenged Can Prompt Deeper Thinking

Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, discovered that when people are presented with political statements contradictory to their own beliefs, they tend to think harder and produce better arguments.

Dr. Cengiz Erisen, a research associate along with fellow researchers Drs. David Redlawsk (University of Delaware) and Elif Erisen (Hacettepe University), looked at the effects of presenting people with information that conflicted with their political ideologies.

The researchers recruited 541 subjects from the Amazon crowdsourcing marketplace Mechanical Turk who leaned either liberal or conservative politically.

They then introduced the subjects to statements from a mock political candidate on the topics of illegal immigration, economic crisis, and the nuclear pursuits of Iran.

Half of the subjects were presented with statements incongruent with their political beliefs (e.g. conservatives were given liberal statements) and the other half were given statements in line with their beliefs.

Participants were then asked to share their supporting thoughts and opposing thoughts on the candidate’s statements.

The results showed that incongruent information significantly alters how people think about politics.

Remarkably, investigators discovered that instead of convincing people to change their minds, the new information reinforced their existing beliefs and actually made people think longer and harder, and with more in-depth arguments, about how they defended them.

“Our robust findings … suggest that resisting a counter view or supporting one’s own ideological viewpoint triggers deeper and more effortful information processing, leading to recall from memory of more thoughts and rationales and recognition of different dimensions of the issue,” said Erisen.

“This might be telling us something about the nature of motivated reasoning: people resist other political views not by few narrow-minded utterances blaming or downgrading the ‘other’; they put effort into constructing opposing thoughts that are rich in content and volume. Whether they are opposing the counter ideological statement or supporting a statement in line with their own ideology, people produce thoughts of better quality when they defend their views.”

Erisen believes that policymakers need to be aware of the results of the rhetoric they use.

“The more they disregard the other side or oppose the contradictory or opposing policy statement, the public will follow that. The less exchange of information, the more the conflict will be,” he said.

Source: Binghamton University/EurekAlert

Politicos Be Warned: Being Challenged Can Prompt Deeper Thinking

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Politicos Be Warned: Being Challenged Can Prompt Deeper Thinking. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 28 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.