[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e’ve all been there — you try reasoning with a hardcore conservative only to find yourself spiraling into an endless pit of frustration. Of course liberals are also passionate about their beliefs, but at least we listen to facts; conservatives seem to oppose everything that seems to make logical sense. No matter how much you argue with them, presenting logical information, they don’t seem to stop — but why is that? Here are a few psychology terms to help explain their irritating behavior:
1. Belief Perseverance: the tendency to cling to one’s initial belief even after receiving new information that contradicts or disconfirms the basis of that belief.
In the case of global warming, we see that there is clear scientific evidence that it is a real thing that we should be very worried about. However, conservatives claim it is false, or a hoax made up by China. We know this is not the case. Belief perseverance explains why even when presented with the data that contradicts their belief, conservatives refuse to give into the fact that global warming is a real threat. We see this phenomenon occur with many other controversial issues like abortion, minority threats, and terrorism. Despite the clear contradicting evidence, they will continue to preserve their initial beliefs.
2. Confirmation Bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.
For this, consider conservative attitudes towards Mexican immigrants. To conservatives, all Mexican immigrants are criminals. While we know this is incorrect, it is their belief. With that racist belief in mind, the second they see a Mexican immigrant in the news for a crime, they will perceive that information as evidence supporting their belief. In other words, it “confirms” their belief. Granted, there will be criminals that happen to be Mexican immigrants, but that is not enough to support the belief that all Mexican immigrants are criminals. This is weak logic that can easily be refuted.
3. Group Polarization: A phenomenon wherein the decisions and opinions of people in a group setting become more extreme than the initial thoughts of its individual members.
Think sexism, homophobia, and racism, three things conservatives are known for. Individually, members probably had the beliefs to begin with. However, being surrounded by others who share their same beliefs will intensify the thoughts. In a politically correct America, very rarely do we see a lone racist, homophobe, or sexist preach their opinions to an audience of liberals — unless he is particularly daring. While the individuals probably had racist or sexist beliefs to begin with, but being surrounded by others who share the beliefs will intensify these beliefs.
Of course, these are only a few of the many psychological terms that can be applied to the strange specimen that is a conservative, but hopefully knowing these terms will help you understand why conservatives are the way that they are.
*The intent of this is not to slander any group of people, but rather, to help others genuinely understand some aspects of the mind that may contribute to certain behaviors.