• PhD Candidate
  • Department of Political Science
  • Social & Behavioral Science Building, 7th floor
  • Stony Brook University
  • Stony Brook NY 11794-4392
  • james.cragun [[ at ]] stonybrook . edu

Working papers

Cragun, James H. "Intuition and Reflection as Sources of Individual Differences in Selective Exposure to Attitude-Congruent Political Information"

Previous research has investigated whether differences in susceptibility to partisan-motivated reasoning are related to individual differences in the tendency to rely on intuition rather than effortful reflection. I extend this research from the phenomenon of motivated reasoning to the phenomenon of selective exposure to attitude-congruent information, an important factor in political polarization. In three studies, I use information-search tasks on the topic of gun control to measure the degree to which individuals prefer to seek information that will support their prior attitudes on the issue. In two of the studies, exposure to attitude-congruent information is found to be greatest among individuals who give intuitive but incorrect answers on the Cognitive Reflection Test. This suggests that individual differences in the tendency to rely on intuition, rather than reflect on and override intuitions when it is appropriate to do so, may be an important psychological basis of individual differences in selective exposure. Results from the third study are inconclusive. None of the three studies show any evidence of selective exposure among the most reflective, or least intuitive, individuals.

Paper: Cragun_reflection_selective_exposure.pdf
Appendix: Cragun_reflection_selective_exposure_appendix.pdf

Cragun, James H. "Religious Faith Promotes Selective Exposure to Attitude-Congruent Political Information"

This paper investigates the effect of religiosity on individual differences in selective exposure to attitude-congruent political information. Many religions teach the importance of faith, the idea that beliefs must be held firmly and not doubted, even in an absence of evidence. This could lead adherents to prefer to read information that strengthens their beliefs and avoid anything that might challenge their beliefs. Being frequently exposed to faith messages could cause the development of a habitual tendency toward motivated reasoning and confirmation bias, which might then be applied as a side effect to beliefs and attitudes outside the context of religion. In this study, a simulated information-search task on a controversial political issue is used to demonstrate that subjects prefer to read a greater proportion of information that is congruent with their prior attitudes on the issue. A measure of rigid religious conviction is used to show that this effect of prior attitudes on information-search behavior is stronger among more religious individuals. A scrambled-sentence task is used experimentally to prime half of the subjects with religious concepts to identify a direct causal effect of faith messages on information-search behavior.