POLITICAL SCIENCE

Scientific curiosity versus polarization

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Science  17 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6326, pp. 707
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6326.707-b

Knowledge does not always change biases, and people tend to absorb information that fits their prejudices. However, rather than studying scientific knowledge, Kahan et al. studied scientific curiosity—the tendency to look for and consume scientific information for pleasure. Two sets of subjects, including several thousand people, were given questions about their interests and activities. Reactions to documentaries and to news stories that contained surprising or unsurprising material were also tracked. The more scientifically curious people were (regardless of their politics), the less likely they were to show signs of politically motivated reasoning. People with higher curiosity ratings were more willing to look at surprising information that conflicted with their political tendencies than people with lower ratings.

Adv. Polit. Psychol. 10.1111/pops.12396 (2017).

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