Positivist Strike Back

Consistent with theoretical expectations, individuals who endorsed neoliberal, free market ideology performed worse on the “heuristics and biases” task, thereby demonstrating a stronger reliance on intuitive or heuristic-based cognitive processing (r = –.26, p = .001). They also scored lower on need for cognition (r = –.23, p = .003), expressed more faith in intuition (r = .20, p = .011), and performed worse on two of three tests of cognitive ability, namely verbal intelligence (r = –.32, p < .001) and abstract reasoning (r = –.16, p = .04), assessed with the “Wordsum” task and Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, respectively. Finally, the endorsement of neoliberal, free market ideology was significantly associated with receptivity to bullshit (r = .16, p = .046).

Correlations involving single-item measures of social and fiscal conservatism — which were themselves highly inter-correlated (r = .67, p < .001) — were in all cases in the same direction but generally weaker than those involving free market ideology. Interestingly, bullshit receptivity was positively associated with trust in government, but the correlation attained conventional levels of statistical significance only with respect to trust in Republican governance (r = .17, p = .032).



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