Political Orientation and Belief In Science In a U.S. College Sample

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Lay skepticism toward empirically supported scientific research has increased significantly in recent years. Given that part of the social contract of science is the betterment of society, it is critical for the scientific community to identify factors underlying public dismissal versus support of scientific evidence. The current study explores how individual differences in political ideology influence acceptance of factual and nonfactual information, with differences in truth-seeking values as a potential mediating variable. Participants rated their agreement with true and untrue (i.e., nonempirically supported) statements and completed self-report assessments of political ideology and personal endorsement of values associated with promoting truth. More politically, liberal individuals reported greater agreement with both scientific facts and untrue statements. Furthermore, endorsement of truth-seeking values mediated the relation between liberal ideology and agreement with facts (but not nonfactual statements). Results suggest that interventions to increase individuals’ acceptance of facts may benefit from stimulating greater support for truth-seeking values and behavior.

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Psychological Reports

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