Press "Enter" to skip to content

Looking Left and Right: Naive Realism

Social psychologists have documented that persons readily, and correctly, discern that individuals who hold factual beliefs different from their own have formed those views to fit their group commitments.
The same research that shows that people often discern the effect of group commitments on the factual views of others finds that people usually don’t discern the distorting effect of such commitments on their own beliefs. Social psychologists call this dynamic ‘naïve realism.’
This experience—of simultaneously perceiving and not perceiving cognitive illiberalism*—is a ubiquitous feature of our political experience. Because our society is genuinely pluralistic, nearly every citizen belongs simultaneously to (potentially shifting) majorities and minorities in moral debates. As a result, we can all identify some species of regulation we object to on the ground that its secular rationale is either a pretext for, or a rationalization of, aversion to disfavored values. And by the same token, we all support regulations the secular justifications for which are perceived by others as pretexts or rationalizations. (links/citations in the original 2007 study by Dan M. Kahan: The Cognitively Illiberal State)

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Politicus is a collaborative political community that facilitates content creation directly on the site. Our goal is to make the political conversation accessible to everyone.

Any donations we receive will go into writer outreach. That could be advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or person-to-person outreach on College campuses. Please help if you can:

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x