A research team led by University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman argues that conservatism — which the researchers identify as “an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo” — may be our default ideology. If we don’t have the time or energy to give a matter sufficient thought, we tend to accept the conservative argument.
“When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient,” the researchers write in thePersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin. “These conditions promote conservative ideology.”
Eidelman and his colleagues’ paper will surely outrage many on the left (who will resist the notion of conservatism as somehow natural) and the right (who will take offense to the idea that their ideology is linked to low brainpower). The researchers do their best to preemptively answer such criticism.
“We do not assert that conservatives fail to engage in effortful, deliberate thought,” they insist. “We find that when effortful thought is disengaged, the first step people take tends to be in a conservative direction.”