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Human Reason: Capricious Rationalizing

April 10, 2011, 8:57 AM
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What's the Big Idea?

How capricious are we? Are the political and social ideals we defend at length subject to quick reversals from a mere suggestion? What we consider true and just may have little to do with our capacity for rational thought. Rather, our environment may form the ground on which our supposedly objective conclusions rest, and when circumstances in our lives change, so too might the opinions we have been holding onto so tightly. Broadly speaking, people tend toward a conservative politics as they acquire more money, for example.

What's the Most Recent Development?

A forthcoming study in the journal Psychological Science demonstrates how simply being in a different frame of mind may affect our predilection toward a wide spectrum of political and social ideas. When subjects were asked to watch a video of a man making mundane choices in his apartment—What to do? What to eat?—they were more likely to emphasize the importance of responsible decision making in life, favoring policies like legalizing marijuana while expressing skepticism of affirmative action and government regulation of pollution.

 

Human Reason: Capricious Ra...

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