It is almost a truism among psychological researchers that conservatives are simple-minded and dogmatic. Liberals, meanwhile, are supposed to be more complex and open-minded thinkers. But a new paper is calling those conclusions into question.
Writing in the journal Political Psychology, a team of researchers led by the University of Montana psychologist Lucian Gideon Conway III reports the results of four studies that together call “into question the typical interpretation that conservatives are less complex than liberals.” It turns out that liberals and conservatives are both simple-minded, depending on the topic under discussion.
Using the dogmatism scale devised in 1960 by the psychologist Milton Rokeach, who defined dogmatism in terms of “closed belief systems,” researchers have generally found a positive relationship between dogmatism and political conservatism. But while the Rokeach scale is supposed to be politically neutral, Conway and his colleagues argue that it actually includes a number of topics for which conservatives generally have a greater concern, such as religion and national defense. Conservatives who fill out the scale would more tend to come off as more dogmatic largely because they are endorsing conservative views.