Posts Tagged ‘belief-overkill’

Jonathan Baron’s interesting article on the phenomenon of “belief-overkill” in the vol. 29  no.4 (2009) issue of Informal Logic (a special issue on psychology and argumentation) got me thinking a bit about the relationship between rationality and tolerance for tension between one’s beliefs.  Baron’s hypothesis was that subjects would adjust their views of policy proposals by a candidate for public office according to their views about separate, internally unconnected policy proposals of the same candidate. This is the phenomenon he calls “belief-overkill” in the article.  Baron’s expectations, as the article reports, were supported by his results.  In his study, the subjects did show tendencies towards belief-overkill.  According to Baron, belief-overkill seems to be linked to an individual’s tolerance for conflict among their beliefs.  Those with a low tolerance for such conflicts were more likely to exhibit a tendency towards belief-overkill. Those with higher tolerances were, accordingly, less likely to exhibit such a tendency.  If, like me, you had friends who seemed to have no discernible economic views at all prior to the Iraq war who suddenly and without discernible reason began quoting Friedrich Hayek on a regular basis the minute they put magnetic yellow ribbons on their cars, this article explains a lot.


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