Expressive responding: Political partisanship can lead to willful disregard for facts, study suggests

Expressive responding: Political partisanship can lead to willful disregard for facts, study suggests

PsyPost reports:

Have you ever wondered if people really believe the controversial statements they make, especially in today’s politically charged environment? A recent study sheds light on this question, revealing that political affiliation may influence how people respond to factual questions, not necessarily reflecting their true beliefs but rather their allegiance to a political group.

This phenomenon, known as “expressive responding,” was the focus of a recent replication study aimed at understanding how partisanship affects perceptions of truth in the context of politically polarizing issues.

Expressive responding occurs when individuals declare beliefs not because they genuinely hold them, but to signal allegiance to their social or political group. This behavior is particularly notable in politically charged environments where factual accuracy might take a back seat to group loyalty.

Researchers embarked on this study to explore the depths of expressive responding, motivated by the stark divide in belief reports on factual matters among Americans. Their aim? To replicate and extend findings from a pivotal 2018 study that suggested people might choose incorrect answers on purpose if it meant showing support for their political “team.”

For their new study, the researchers recruited participants through Lucid, an online platform that uses quota sampling to ensure a representative sample in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and geographic region. The study ran from October 23 to October 29, 2019, ultimately gathering complete data from 1,018 participants.

The study sought to compare responses from Republicans and Democrats regarding which of two photos showed larger crowds: one from Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration and another from Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

This choice of subject matter was no accident. It stems from a controversial claim by the White House that Trump’s inauguration drew the largest audience ever, a claim easily disproven by available evidence showing Obama’s inauguration attracted significantly larger crowds. By asking participants to identify which photo showed more people, the researchers aimed to test whether political partisanship would lead to expressive responding. [Continue reading…]

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