Solution Aversion: On the Relation Between Ideology and Motivated Disbelief

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2014-11-06

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Abstract

There is often a curious distinction between what the scientific community and the general population believe to be true of dire scientific issues, and this skepticism tends to vary markedly across groups. For instance, in the case of climate change, Republicans (conservatives) are especially skeptical of the relevant science, particularly when they are compared with Democrats (liberals). What causes such radical group differences? We suggest, as have previous accounts, that this phenomenon is often motivated. However, the source of this motivation is not necessarily an aversion to the problem, per se, but an aversion to the solutions associated with the problem. This difference in underlying process holds important implications for understanding, predicting, and influencing motivated skepticism. In 4 studies, we tested this solution aversion explanation for why people are often so divided over evidence and why this divide often occurs so saliently across political party lines. Studies 1, 2, and 3— using correlational and experimental methodologies— demonstrated that Republicans’ increased skepticism toward environmental sciences may be partly attributable to a conflict between specific ideological values and the most popularly discussed environmental solutions. Study 4 found that, in a different domain (crime), those holding a more liberal ideology (support for gun control) also show skepticism motivated by solution aversion.

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10.1037/a0037963

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Campbell, T, and A Kay (2014). Solution Aversion: On the Relation Between Ideology and Motivated Disbelief. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(5). pp. 809–824. 10.1037/a0037963 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9256.

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Kay

Aaron Charles Kay

J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Professor of International Management

Aaron C. Kay (PhD 2005, Stanford University) is the J Rex Fuqua Professor of Management and Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University. His research focuses on the relation between motivation, implicit social cognition, and social issues. He has a particular interest in how basic motivations and needs manifest as specific social and societal beliefs. These include (but are not limited to) the causes and consequences of stereotyping and system justification, religious belief, political ideology, and the attitudes people hold towards their organizations and institutions. 

For this research, Aaron Kay has been awarded the Janet T. Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the American Psychological Society, the SAGE Young Scholar Award from the Foundation of Personality and Social Psychology (2010), the Early Career Contribution Award from the International Society of Justice Researchers (2010), the Early Researchers Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (2009), and Dissertation Awards from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (2006) and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (runner-up; 2006). He has been named a Fellow of the American Psychological Society as well as the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and Dr. Kay's research is widely covered in national and international news and media outlets. Dr. Kay is a past President of the International Society of Justice Research.


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