Reasoning is like defensive combat. Finding out you’re wrong means suffering a defeat. Seeks out evidence to fortify and defend your beliefs.
Reasoning is like mapmaking. Finding out you’re wrong means revising your map. Seeks out evidence that will make your map more accurate.
Accuracy motivated reasoning evaluates the ideas through the lens of “Is it true?”
The Soldier Mindset helps us adopt and defend beliefs that give us emotional and social benefits.
Over time, our beliefs about the world adjust to accomodate our track record, e.g. poorer people are more likely to believe that luck plays a big role in life, while wealthier people tend to credit hard work and talent.
Especially when making tough decisions and acting on them with conviction, we selectively focus on the parts that justify optimism.
found that when employees held meetings to decide on a project to work on, they spent little time comparing options, and instead quickly anchored on one option and spent most of the meeting raising points in favor.
To convince others of something, we become motivated to believe it ourselves, e.g. found that law students come to believe their side is both morally and legally in the right, even when the sides are randomly assigned.
Some beliefs make us look a certain way, e.g. gravitating towards moderate positions on controversial issues in order to seem mature; looking for defensible rationalizations like being opposed to new construction for the impact on the environment, and not for wanting to keep owned property values high.
Social groups hold beliefs and values that members are implicitly expected to share, e.g. all environmental policies are effective, children are a blessing, etc.
While deferring to consensus is often a wise heuristic because you don’t / can’t know everything, motivated reasoning occurs when you wouldn’t even want to find out if consensus was wrong.
Loyalty to a group biases members to be skeptical of evidence/arguments against the group. found strongly identified group members (e.g. gamers) publicly discrediting findings that threaten their social identity (e.g. effect of playing violent video games on aggression). Other research areas that are frequently battle grounds: anthropogenic climate change, evolutionary theory, side-effects of vaccines, effectiveness of alternative medicines, sexism, effects of unions on the economy, health effects of a vegetarian diet, etc.
Epistemic rationality means holding beliefs that are well justified. Instrumental rationality means acting effectively to achieve your goals. ’s Rational Irrationality predicts that when private error costs are zero, agents will gather little information but form definite conclusions.
Present bias makes us overvalue short-term consequences and under-value long-term ones, e.g. motivation to proceed vs. weighing alternatives.
We under-estimate the value of building scout habits, e.g. reasoning about something that doesn’t impact you directly still impacts you indirectly by reinforcing general habits of thought.
We under-estimate the ripple effects of self-deception, e.g. rosy self-perception makes it likely to dismiss people uninterested in you as shallow.
We overestimate how much other people judge us, and how much impact their judgments have on our lives.
The abundance of opportunity (e.g. kindred unconventional folks online or in a big city, choosing where to live, being able to cut ties with abusive family) makes the scout mindset far more useful to us than it would have been for our ancestors.
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