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DN Debate. Our opinions affect how well we can interpret the facts of the political issues

In times when everyone seems to talk about faktaresistens and increased polarization in politics, it may be worthwhile to take the time to think over how we consume information. To change their perceptions is hard. Especially since we like to gravitate to groups and environments where the values and political philosophies are in line with our own. Rather than objectively interpret new information, it is often more pleasant to use the following rule of thumb to assess the information: ”How do I feel this?” and then interpret the information so that it does not go counter with our own world view and perception.

we actively avoid information is one thing. We can choose to not listen to or see the information going with what we think and believe. The vast majority of can certainly recognize that sometimes it is quite nice to live in ignorance. A generally accepted view, however, is that we still update our beliefs in light of new information that is presented to us.

. What is the reason for this? Well, some beliefs are valuable for us, not because they necessarily are correct, but for the creating and strengthening our social identity.

At the individual level can be justified in thinking quite harmless. Maybe it is not so dangerous that you think that one's own children is snällast and best or to one's own ideas and thoughts are brilliant despite the fact that a convincing majority, think differently. In subjects with a greater impact on society, such as climate change and immigration issues, however, can be justified in thinking have serious implications for society when we hold on to rigid and false beliefs.

That individuals have the willingness and the ability to change opinion in the light of new information is a prerequisite for any kind of debate and decision-making in a democratic society that strives for improvement.

Studies from the USA have shown that individuals ' ability to correctly interpret the facts in the form of simple numerical information related to the effect of stricter gun laws are governed by political affiliation. Republicans are better at interpreting statistics show that stricter gun laws leads to increased crime. Supporters of the democrats on the other hand, is better at interpreting statistics where more stringent gun laws demonstrates a correlation with reduced crime.

We recently conducted a related study in Sweden, where we examined the reasoned thinking in how people interpret information about immigration and crime. Our result is clear: We misinterpret the information linked to the immigration effects for the benefit of our underlying worldview. Reasoned thinking controls how we interpret simple figures and statistics in the politically and morally sensitive issues.

In our study was just over 1000 participants from Sweden enter partisympati and classify themselves as ”more of a Swedish” or ”more of a citizen of the world”, based on the following description: ”Sometimes you talk about whether people see themselves as ”Citizens of the world” or ”Swedes”. People who see themselves as ”global Citizens” believe that all people should have the same rights, and that we have an equal responsibility to help all people, regardless of their nationality. People who see themselves as ”Swedes” mean that Swedish citizens should have certain privileges, and that we have a greater responsibility to help other swedes than what we have to help people from other countries.”

It is not just 'climate change deniers', and Trump supporters engaged in reasoned thinking when it comes to figures and statistics, but also environmentalists and feminists.

the Actual task was to interpret what the numerical information from a fictitious scenario hinted about the relationship between the recipient and crime. This required the participants to think in terms of quotas rather than in absolute terms. In the scenario shown numerical information which either showed that the crime rate increased in an area that received many refugees or, on the contrary, the crime rate decreased in an area which receives many refugees. Participants were also given an estimate of a politically neutral scenario where a certain skin cream led to increased or decreased skin conditions.

When it came to interpreting information related to immigration and crime did, however, state and partisympati a significant role. When the figures showed that crime increased most in the areas with refugee reception had people who saw themselves as ”more of an american” was 18 percentage points higher probability to interpret the information correctly compared with people who saw themselves as ”more of a citizen of the world”.

When the numbers showed the opposite correlation had people who classified themselves as ”more of a citizen of the world” 20 percentage points higher probability to interpret the numbers right, compared with those who classified themselves as ”more of an american”. The conclusion of this is not only to reasoned thinking occurs, but that there is as much to both sides. Thus, it is not just 'climate change deniers', and Trump supporters engaged in reasoned thinking when it comes to figures and statistics, but also environmentalists and feminists.

Link to the graphics

We see similar results on the basis of partisympati. Those who indicated that they would have voted for any of the conservative parties (M, KD or SD) was 30 percentage points better at interpreting the numerical information when it showed an increase in crime as a result of the recipient. Those who indicated that they would have voted on any of the red-green parties (S, V or MP) was on the other side 9 percentage points better at interpreting the information when the effect of the recipient was the opposite.

That individuals have the willingness and the ability to change opinion in the light of new information is a prerequisite for any kind of debate and decision-making in a democratic society that strives for improvement.

the Reasoned thinking can also be used and reinforced by various interest groups in order to increase the polarization and åsiktslåsningar. Something that we seem to see increasingly in today's politics and everyday life in which we increasingly only choose to consume information and news that goes in line with our own worldview. And once we are faced with contradictory information we are misinterpreting the the.

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