When collective decisionmaking turns on facts or other propositions that are understood to bear special significance for the interests, standing, or commitments of opposing groups … identity-protective cognition* will predictably exaggerate differences in their understandings of the evidence. But even more importantly, as a result of a dynamic known as ‘naive realism,’ each side’s susceptibility to motivated reasoning will interact with and reinforce the other’s.
Naïve realism refers to an asymmetry in the ability of individuals to perceive the impact of identity-protective cognition. Individuals tend to attribute the beliefs of those who disagree with them to the biasing impact of their opponents’ values. Often they are right….Nevertheless, in such situations individuals usually understand their own factual beliefs to reflect nothing more than ‘objective fact,’ plain for anyone to see. In this regard, they are psychologically naïve about the contribution that group commitments make to their own perceptions.
Naïve realism makes exchanges between groups experiencing identity-protective cognition even more divisive. The (accurate) perception that a rival group’s members are reacting in a closed-minded fashion naturally spurs a group’s members to express resentment — the seeming baselessness of which provokes members of the former to experience and express the same. The intensity, and the evident polarization, of the disagreement magnifies the stake that individuals feel in defending their respective groups’ positions. Indeed, at that point, the debate is likely to take on meaning as a contest over the integrity and intelligence of those groups, fueling the participants’ incentives, conscious and unconscious, to deny the merits of any evidence that undercuts their respective views. (links/citations in the original)