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Americans tend to overestimate their political knowledge

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News Politics: Many Americans are starting to consider which candidates they will support in the 2022 general election as statewide primaries proceed through the summer. There are many challenges in this decision-making process, especially for novice voters. Voters who are seeking to decide who to vote for must traverse contentious, emotionally charged political talks. American politics sometimes resemble epic wars between good and evil because people are more likely than ever to perceive politics in moral terms. However, political discussions are also influenced by Americans’ knowledge of politics as well as their perceptions of it, which is less visible.
In my most recent research, I looked at the ways in which Americans’ opinions of their own political expertise affect their political attitudes. My findings indicate that many Americans believe they know a lot.

To do this, I recruited a sample of Americans to participate in a survey experiment via the Lucid recruitment platform. In the experiment, some respondents were shown a series of statements that taught them to avoid common political falsehoods. For instance, one statement explained that while many people believe that Social Security will soon run out of money, the reality is less dire than it seems.

In my most recent study on the subject, I tried to find out what would happen when politically overconfident people found out they were mistaken about political facts.

My hypothesis was that most people would learn from the statements, and become more wary of repeating common political falsehoods. However, as I have found in my previous studies, a problem quickly emerged.

The overconfident respondents failed to change their attitudes in response to my warnings about political falsehoods. My investigation showed that they did read the statements, and could report details about what they said. But their attitudes toward falsehoods remained inflexible, likely because they – wrongly – considered themselves political experts.

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