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Motivated Cognition

August 17, 2010

We don’t usually appropriate the work of others, but we found something so resonant that we couldn’t resist. 

It’s a commentary on the tendency of political bloggers and others “to seal themselves in an echo chamber of their own beliefs.” 

See: “How Web Journalism Can Make People Seem Hateful.” 

“The official psychological term … is “motivated cognition” — a tendency to bias our interpretation of facts to fit a version of the world we wish to believe is true. For instance, one study found that college basketball fans, viewing the same video of a game, were likely to believe the rival team committed at least twice as many fouls as their own.” 

“Political beliefs are even more susceptible. Research has found that when psychologists confront political partisans with facts contradictory to their opinions, they become even more convinced of their existing beliefs.” 

This article sparked introspective dialogue at NT2. We asked ourselves: Are we open to new information, or do we hear just what we want to hear? 

We think we’re ok on this point. We find ourselves alternately praising and criticizing elected officials and we think that it is as it should be. No favorites here. 

And with regard to policy, we have an agenda that involves promoting the state economy, but we don’t view ourselves as specifically pro- or anti-labor, business or government. 

We call ourselves moderates and post-partisan, but sometimes we have embraced policies that don’t exactly square with those labels. 

We want to be completely forthright and honest with our posts, but sometimes write to mildly provoke. (Not everybody understands that.) 

In the end, it’s the readers call as to whether we’re contributing in a meaningful way. We just know we’re having fun.

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