What is it about?

In a study of over 700 US citizens, we measured the strength of partisan identities using a continuous pictorial measure which allowed participants to indicate the level of identity fusion between their personal identities and the two prevailing political parties (Democratic and Republican Parties). Using three independent behavioural measures of cognitive rigidity from the neuropsychological literature, the analyses revealed a clear inverted-U shaped relationship between partisan intensity and flexibility: participants on the extreme left and extreme right displayed reduced cognitive flexibility on these three tests relative to moderates and those with only weak personal attachments to the political parties.

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Why is it important?

These findings suggest that strong partisan intensity is related to reduced cognitive flexibility, regardless of the political party’s doctrine and partisan direction. This helps to inform theoretical debates about the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis versus the rigidity-of-the-extreme hypothesis.

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This page is a summary of: The partisan mind: Is extreme political partisanship related to cognitive inflexibility?, Journal of Experimental Psychology General, August 2019, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xge0000661.
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