1932

Abstract

By all accounts, we currently live in a polarized political state in which virtually every fact is contestable. From climate change to vaccine efficacy, people feel free to choose their own facts to support politically charged arguments. Partisans in every area of American life are unable to agree on the basic assumptions underlying political debate. Research on cultural cognition demonstrates that people's political and cultural commitments shape how they process information from news sources, scientists, and public officials, thereby dictating which policies they support and which ones they oppose. When partisan loyalties determine what evidence people will accept, political compromise becomes difficult or even impossible. All is not lost, however. Cultural cognition has a powerful influence, but facts are stubborn things. In some areas of public debate, facts and evidence have overcome political divides. Furthermore, an understanding of the influence of cultural cognition can facilitate remedies to partisanship. This article examines the research that demonstrates the extent of cultural influences on people's understanding of public debates, identifies the limits of cultural cognition, and describes the extent to which cultural cognition itself provides keys to breaking down partisan divides.

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2021-10-13
2024-04-16
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