Could this explain the appeal of conservatism?
I’ve been reading Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. He describes two modes of thinking: a more intuitive mode that is fast and effortless, but that is structurally prone to a whole list of biases that will predictably lead it to incorrect conclusions in specific situations. The other mode is slower and more thoroughgoing, reasons the problem out, and can avoid the errors of the fast mode; but it is effort-full.
The book demonstrates how we prefer to use our fast mode, because most of the time it comes to serviceable conclusions (or at least ones that “sound right”) and it costs us little in terms of cognitive effort. But it also consistently leads us to the same kinds of errors. The fast mode is valuable, but it needs to be chaperoned, when possible, by the slow mode.
Then today I came across this study (full PDF here) that finds that conservative ideologies tend to be the kind of conclusions that the fast mode comes up with. The researchers prompted people for their political attitudes under circumstances that prevented them from using the slower, more thorough mode of thinking: (1) while alcohol impaired; (2) while engaged in other cognitive tasks; (3) while under time pressure; and (4) while using little mental effort.
All of these circumstances produced markedly more conservative responses than from subjects who were (1) sober; (2) not thinking about something else (3) given time for reflection; and (4) exerting mental effort.
Could it be, then, that conservative ideas appeal because they “sound right” on an intuitive level and don’t require a lot of cognitive work?