The Shared Delusions of Liberals & Conservatives

When it comes to political positions, it appears that we’re all a bit delusional. More to the point, liberals tend to underestimate the amount of agreement amongst those who share their political position, whilst conservatives tend to overestimate how much other conservatives agree with each other.

A study published in Psychological Science uncovered these findings by recruiting 300 participants to complete an online questionnaire, which had questions related to political statements (i.e., “In general, I support labour unions.”) and general statements (i.e., “I enjoy coffee.”). For each question, they also had to indicate how much they thought someone of the same political persuasion would agree with their opinion.

According to researchers, liberals displayed what they called a “truly false sense of uniqueness”, believing that their opinions were more distinctive from other liberals than they actually were. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, were subject to “truly false consensus”, believing that their attitudes were more common and shared than was actually the case.

Interestingly, these findings extended past political statements and to general ones like coffee preference; liberals think that their coffee preferences are more unique than they are in reality, whereas conservatives are under the impression that everyone shares their preferences.

Photo courtesy of Bahman.


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