Category Archive: politics

Aug 06

Luck vs Merit (Part 2)


Robert Frank discusses the role of skill vs. luck in producing success.

Jul 20

Just My Luck (or is it?)

Most people agree that success requires hard work and good fortune. Recent research suggests that people’s politics can be swayed depending on which of these ingredients they focus on when thinking about their own success. Thinking about the role of hard work in your success makes you more likely to support more conservative social policies, while thinking about the role of luck and the help of others makes you more likely to support liberal ones.

Jun 21

Adapting to Change


Some really interesting ideas from biologist Razib Khan (@razibkhan) on political ideology at his Gene Expression blog. The basic idea is that the degree to which people think for themselves, rather than simply do what everyone else is doing and has always done, depends on how quickly the world around them is changing.

Jun 18

Rationalization and the Individual Mandate


Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein has a thoughtful piece in The New Yorker this week that walks through the psychology and politics of how Republicans pulled a 180-degree turn in their position on the individual healthcare mandate. Klein’s argument revolves around several of the forms of motivated reasoning that I’ve discussed here over the past few weeks, including how partisans reflexively dislike whatever their opponent proposes and how we construct our ideals of fairness based on whatever suits our current purposes.

Jun 14

Forget about Fairness

Building on my post last week that highlighted how compromise becomes difficult when people think there’s more distance between them and the other side than there actually is, I wanted to pass along a recent column by James Surowiecki on the “fairness trap”.

Jun 05

Extremists Exaggerate Polarization

red-blue glasses

Political polarization is not as bad as most people think. New psychological research on “polarization projection” reveals that people on the extremes have a tendency to project the strength of their beliefs on others, creating a distorted picture of the political landscape.

May 25

Does Obama’s Support Increase Republican Opposition to Marriage Equality?


Following Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality Republican opposition to the cause grew stronger. Social psychology research tells us that this is what we should probably expect: people are often more often influenced by who is supporting a policy than the actual content of the policy itself.