Reflective liberals and intuitive conservatives: A look at the cognitive reflection test and ideology

Kristen D. Deppe, Frank J. Gonzalez, Jayme L. Neiman, Carly Jacobs, Jackson Pahlke, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Prior research finds that liberals and conservatives process information differently. Predispositions toward intuitive versus reflective thinking may help explain this individual level variation. There have been few direct tests of this hypothesis and the results from the handful of studies that do exist are contradictory. Here we report the results of a series of studies using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) to investigate inclinations to be reflective and political orientation. We find a relationship between thinking style and political orientation and that these effects are particularly concentrated on social attitudes. We also find it harder to manipulate intuitive and reflective thinking than a number of prominent studies suggest. Priming manipulations used to induce reflection and intuition in published articles repeatedly fail in our studies. We conclude that conservatives— more specifically, social conservatives—tend to be dispositionally less reflective, social liberals tend to be dispositionally more reflective, and that the relationship between reflection and intuition and political attitudes may be more resistant to easy manipulation than existing research would suggest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-331
Number of pages18
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive reflection test
  • Ideology
  • Political attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics

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