Why voters value loyalty over honesty in politics
Researchers at Cornell found through new experiments that people will overlook dishonesty if it benefits them and the group they identify with.
- New studies suggest that in competitive settings, group loyalty leads to group members displaying more dishonest tendencies.
- Research at Cornell found that there is a fundamental link between dishonesty and loyalty when it comes to group think.
- Dishonesty in politics which is an ever-present and timeless aspect is most likely due to this phenomenon.
No matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, there is bound to be someone complaining about how the other side is horrible or they're slanderous liars. This vitriol and heart felt damnation for the other team is nothing new. In politics we've always tended to group together with other like-minded individuals even in the event that it goes too far.
Recent research out of Cornell proposes that we really aren't that adverse to lying as we proclaim to be. Especially if the lies told benefit our side or whatever group we propose to belong to.
Comedian George Carlin once quipped that, "If honesty were suddenly introduced to politics, it would throw everything off — the whole system would collapse."
Carlin said this during the Clinton administration and as you might have guessed it, things haven't changed much... Lies, untruth or whatever doublespeak the holier-than-thou crowd wants to fling at their opposing side need to realize one thing — they're all liars to some degree.
Merits of the dishonesty study
Angus Hildreth, Cornell's management professor, set up an experiment to explore the tumultuous relationship between truthfulness or lackthereof and loyalty. Hildreth and his team selected groups of random students, fraternity brothers and other volunteers then asked them to solve a number of puzzles and word games.
The rules of the game were simple. If the team performed well on these tasks, then the whole team would make more money.
The subjects were able to self report and then lie about puzzles they didn't complete. Though they didn't know that the researchers were able to tell if they were lying. Some failed or incomplete worksheets were dug out of the trash or the researchers intentionally gave them impossible puzzles.
Throughout the study, the team was encouraged and often felt righteous about their lying in the event that it benefitted themselves and their group.
Later on when these subjects pledged loyalty to a group to face off against other teams, it was found that more than 60 percent of people lied. Those who pledged loyalty but weren't inspired by competition against other groups lied less at 15 to 20 percent.
Political takeaways from the study
Researchers felt that loyalty was the cause of a lot of political corruption. They stated that:
Loyalty often drives corruption. Corporate scandals, political machinations, and sports cheating highlight how loyalty's pernicious nature manifests in collusion, conspiracy, cronyism, nepotism, and other forms of cheating.
But at the same time loyalty is a fundamental and ethical principle, which drives a lot of our behavior. Even so, the results and hypotheses proved that it was an implicit factor when it came to lying.
Across nine studies, we found that individuals primed with loyalty cheated less than those not primed (Study 1A and 1B). Members more loyal to their fraternities (Study 2A) and students more loyal to their study groups (Study 2B) also cheated less than their less loyal counterparts due to greater ethical salience when they pledged their loyalty (Studies 3A and 3B). Importantly, competition moderated these effects: when competition was high, members more loyal to their fraternities (Study 4) or individuals primed with loyalty (Studies 5A and 5B) cheated more.
Competition, which is the name of the game in the political realm, will always breed lying discontent between factions.
- Alternative facts do exist: beliefs, lies and politics ›
- Art of the lie - Post-truth politics ›
- A Behavioral Science Solution to Lies in Politics | Psychology Today ›
- How to Address the Epidemic of Lies in Politics - Scientific American ... ›
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.
- Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
- Intersectionality and civic discourse
- How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence
As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.
- The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
- But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
- Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.
- The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
- Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
- Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.