Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 4, July 2015, pp. 314–331


Copyright: © 2015. The authors license this article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Prior research finds that liberals and conservatives process information differently. Predispositions toward intuitive versus reflective thinking may help explain this individual level variation. There have been few direct tests of this hypothesis and the results from the handful of studies that do exist are contradictory. Here we report the results of a series of studies using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) to investigate inclinations to be reflective and political orientation. We find a relationship between thinking style and political orientation and that these effects are particularly concentrated on social attitudes. We also find it harder to manipulate intuitive and reflective thinking than a number of prominent studies suggest. Priming manipulations used to induce reflection and intuition in published articles repeatedly fail in our studies. We conclude that conservatives— more specifically, social conservatives—tend to be dispositionally less reflective, social liberals tend to be dispositionally more reflective, and that the relationship between reflection and intuition and political attitudes may be more resistant to easy manipulation than existing research would suggest.

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