How to think like a social conservative in 1 easy step.



Did you ever wonder how a person could come to adopt conservative social stances? Just what the thought processes are behind hating every available out group? Just how a person can come to view 47% of their fellow citizens as lazy shiftless parasites?

What mental pathways did they take to arrive at that conclusion? Thank science, we now have data that shows us how this occurs:

Good news for conservatives as a compilation of four recent social psychology studies demonstrate that rather than necessarily being pathological, political conservatism is promoted when people rely on low-effort thinking.

Good news indeed! It’s not that your a evil sack of meat that lacks any sense of empathy for your fellow human, it’s just that you’re FUCKING LAZY. No longer does the social conservative of today need to worry that maybe they’re being an asshole, they can just let everyone know that they’re just being efficient.

When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient; these conditions promote conservative ideology… ….its concepts are easier to process, and processing fluency increases attitude endorsement.”

From the abstract of the study:

  • Study 1:
    Alcohol intoxication was measured among bar patrons; as blood alcohol level increased, so did political conservatism (controlling for sex, education, and political identification).
  • Study 2:
    Participants under cognitive load reported more conservative attitudes than their no-load counterparts.
  • Study 3:
    Time pressure increased participants’ endorsement of conservative terms.
  • Study 4:
    Participants considering political terms in a cursory manner endorsed conservative terms more than those asked to cogitate;
    an indicator of effortful thought (recognition memory) partially mediated the relationship between processing effort and

So, what results in increased acceptance of conservative ideas? Being drunk. Thinking about lots of things at once. Not having enough time to think. Not giving the issue more than a glance.

Ever wonder why conservatives can’t seem to understand that people are not always to blame for the circumstances they find themselves in? While personal responsibility sounds like it makes perfect sense initially, when you walk people through the various life circumstances that can render people temporarily dependent upon government help, it becomes clear that things are not so simple.

Said no conservative ever.

Makes it pretty clear why the party that can’t wait to cut education funding believes the things it does. Looks like the only thing you need to do to think like a conservative is………….stop thinking.





You can find me on twitter, @DrDavidBurger

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  • Mr. Creazil

    >It’s not that your a evil sack of meat that lacks any sense of empathy for your fellow human, it’s just that you’re FUCKING LAZY.

    >your a evil sack of meat


    • John Horstman

      Damn, I must have missed that copy-correction because I was laughing too hard. Creazil has a point; it should read “…that you’re an evil sack…”

  • John Horstman

    That first block quote is just so delicious. I guess this also explains why they tend to hate Science™, while reveling in the material plenty its advances have allowed.

  • RuQu

    Now that we know the cause, how do we fix it?

    Is it possible to regulate the public discourse in a way that focuses more attention on the analysis and complexity and less on superficiality? The journalists have the time to think about the details of the issue instead of having a knee-jerk reaction. Can we adjust media regulation to promote that analysis?

  • Ryan

    So… what does that mean for [alcohol] prohibition? It’s a predominantly conservative idea with a net effect that helps people avoid thinking in a manner limited to conservative ideas.

    • Mark Temporis

      You’d think it was a conservative idea, but if you go and look many progressive groups, especially women’s rights/suffrage and worker’s groups. Okay, and the Klan, but that was just to screw with Catholics.

  • Lana

    The better you are at drinking, the worse you are at thinking. I saw that on the side of a bar in Slovenia. I’ve seen a lot of drunk liberals too.

    • Azkyroth

      Unless large numbers of people are going to the polls drunk I don’t see what you’re trying to say here.

  • smrnda

    I tend to find this to be true even among better educated conservatives (I’ve actually done some research in this area as well when I was in graduate school for psychology) – they tend to want easy, black and white answers. Just base all of life on “property rights are absolute” and “government should do nothing but protect property rights and that’s freedom” and you’ve finished thinking. Social ‘problems’ cease to exist since a discussion of privilege, power, and how current levels of wealth and power came to be just can’t be addressed within the system.

    I’m not sure what could be done; my research was by no means conclusive in how to get people to change how they think. Ideally you could walk people through a Socratic dialog, but even that doesn’t necessarily work. Another thing is that you can quite easily find good sources of information on any number of social issues, but are FOX news loyalists going to actually read different viewpoints?

    • machintelligence

      For those of you who have not read it (both of you) here is a link to Bob Altemeyer’s “The Authoritarians”
      It explains quite a bit about the conservative mindset. Exposure to other opinions does seem to help.

  • invivoMark

    If we’re going to accuse people of being lazy in their thinking, then we should take care to not be lazy ourselves, especially since we are talking about a large and diverse group of people. Let’s consider what the study DOES NOT show: the study does not show that all conservatives are lazy thinkers; the study does not show that all people who are lazy thinkers are conservatives; the study does not show that there is a causal relationship between lazy thinking and long-term, deep-seated political beliefs or one’s self-described political persuasions.

    What the study shows is that a transient shift in opinion occurs when the opinion is formed under duress. That shift happens to coincide with general political stances. If we expect that all of a person’s thinking will always be done under duress, then we might expect that person’s political opinion to remain right-shifted. But that is rarely the case. At some time or another, a conservative will think about an issue while sober, when not under any particular pressure, and they will still be a conservative.

    Of course, there is a lot of evidence elsewhere (in some of the references in the paper, for example) that conservatives in general don’t think as thoroughly about various issues as liberals (reality, of course, has a liberal bias). Just don’t read into any one study too much, including this one.

    Though part of me wants to see this same experiment done with pot instead of alcohol. Surely, pot decreases one’s critical thinking skills. Yet it also makes one much more likely to say, “We should, like, totally not have personal property, maaaan.”

  • Azkyroth

    I assume the next installment of this theory will be “how to give birth like a man?”

    • Azkyroth

      ..this SERIES, damnit.

      • brianpansky

        perhaps you mean cis man.

  • Silent Service

    I figured that out years ago. It’s why I quit following in my conservative parent’s footsteps. They still can’t figure out where they went wrong.

  • Alessandra

    It’s hard to find a middle-schooler who packs more name-calling and cheap shots to attack people they don’t like as the “author” did in this article. Are liberals are too stupid to think? Just calling other people lazy, evil, stupid, non-thinking doesn’t require thinking – what it requires is a lot of intolerance, hate, and spite – aside from vulgarity. The perfect description of what DrDavidBurger is full of.

    • Cubist

      Alessandra, your comment reads like its author is engaged in reflexive, content-free tribalistic defense of Their Side, as opposed to… say… addressing the substance of either the OP or the studies on which it was based. Now, if you have some concerns about the methodology employed in those studies, or if you think the OP misrepresents those studies, that’s one thing. But if all you’re going to do is whine “he was mee-ee-eean to us!” without showing that the OP is in some way inaccurate, all you’re doing is providing yet more evidence to support the OP, on top of all the pre-existing supportive evidence.