Defeating Merchants of Doubt: Subjective certainty and self-affirmation ameliorate attitude polarization via partisan motivated reasoning

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Informed by uncertainty-identity theory, this study tested the polarizing effect of partisan-led politicization of science and ways to combat it. Using a national sample of South Koreans (N = 840), our online experiment found that when partisan elites, as opposed to scientists (or civic activists), spearheaded politicization, attitude polarization emerged via partisan motivated reasoning. Such polarizing effects of party cues did not persist when subjective certainty and self-affirmation enhanced the level of certainty partisans felt about their surroundings and themselves. These patterns proved consistent across multiple scientific issues, including climate change, genetically modified foods, and algae blooms. The implications of the findings are discussed in light of how to attenuate the polarizing effect of partisan-led politicization through the lens of social identity approaches. Given that this study provides one of the first pieces of evidence on the topic outside the Western context, the advantages of using a South Korean sample are noted.
Publisher
SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
Issue Date
2020-10
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Citation

PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF SCIENCE, v.29, no.7, pp.729 - 744

ISSN
0963-6625
DOI
10.1177/0963662520939315
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/276666
Appears in Collection
RIMS Journal Papers
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