What the other guys believe

How well do you understand the beliefs of those at the opposite political spectrum as yourself?

Being a semiprofessional policy nerd, so I thought I had a good handle on this. I know, for example, most of the conservative and liberal arguments for this or that policy proposal, and can (and do) rank them on their credibility all the time, constantly adjusting those  rankings as I learn more about the world. That’s a wonk’s life.

But here’s a different question: which of those arguments do they believe and feel are the most compelling?

Some JMU researchers have devised a little experiment to determine just that. It’s a short questionnaire. You should take it! They ask you a few questions about the best policy arguments from conservative and liberal viewpoints and then they ask you your own political orientation.

I learned something from my results. I was able to correctly identify the favored argument of political conservatives approximately zero percent of the time. 0 for 5!

Paul Krugman thinks liberals understand conservative reasoning better than conservatives do liberal reasoning. Well, he might be true with respect to the logic of the arguments, but at least for this guy, he’s dead wrong regarding the beliefs about the strengths of the arguments.

h/t Baseline Scenario

3 thoughts on “What the other guys believe”

  1. I got 2 out of 5! But which 2? I feel as in the dark as you do.

    Part of it may be that I am familiar with the public arguments conservatives often make (e.g., an increase in the minimum wage will reduce employment rates for low-skill workers). But the survey measures the arguments conservatives privately believe. Which may be different.

    And the study seems to be written for a fairly sophisticated audience, no? I’m having trouble picturing how some of my more outspoken and less educated high school classmates would respond. I mean, do average Joes really give 2 shits about capital markets? The reasoning of Economist subscription-holders may be different from that of Huckabee supporters, even if the conclusions are the same.

    1. Yay, a new commenter! Thanks, Mandy!

      I totally neglected to mention that the survey had been targeted to readers of the “top 20 econ blogs.” So, yeah, econ-oriented, and sophisticated, or at least they think so. 😉

  2. Ok, that was a fun but random quiz. All the answers were ones where “all of the above” could be the correct answer. Just depends on emphasis – do I pick the “economic” argument or the one that strikes me as the most emotional?

    I also got 2 of 5 correct. BUT it is a dynamic test so the answers might change as more conservatives answer.
    And seriously, did you think there were obvious right answers even for the liberals think this questions? Usually there were at least two reasonable answers per question.

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