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Social Psychology Speaker Series: Peter Ditto, “Is Partisan Bias Bipartisan?”

The social psychology program at CGU calls its colloquium/symposium meetings “Social Socials” because they are doubly social—they are about social psychology and they are a social event that brings together faculty, students, visitors and anyone who is interested in social psychology. Social Socials invites social psychologists to come talk about their recent/current research on a wide variety of topics. Everyone with an interest in social psychology is welcome. Lunch will be provided.

This event will feature Peter Ditto, PhD, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Irvine.

Talk Title: Is Partisan Bias Bipartisan?

Both liberals and conservatives accuse their political opponents of partisan bias, but what is the evidence that one side of the political aisle is indeed more biased than the other? There are reasons to suspect that political conservatives are particularly resistant to threatening information. It is also plausible, however, that partisan bias is universal and that predominantly liberal social psychologists are simply more likely to recognize conservative than liberal bias. In this talk I will describe a meta-analysis of 51 experimental studies (N=18,815) examining biased processing of political information in American liberals and conservatives. Bias was operationalized as the degree to which participants rated otherwise identical information more favorably when it supported their political beliefs or allegiances than when it challenged those beliefs or allegiances. Results showed that both liberals and conservatives were moderately biased — both groups were significantly more resistant to information that challenged rather than supported their political views – and that the magnitude of partisan bias was virtually identical in both groups. Challenges to and implications of the current findings will be discussed.