Conservatives are apparently just as ‘intellectually humble’ as liberals

being wrong intellectually humble
Support us and go ad-free

A study has found that conservatives are not less intellectually humble about their beliefs than liberals. Intellectual humility is the awareness that one’s beliefs may be wrong. Lead author Mark Leary says the idea that conservatives are more dogmatic about their views is just a stereotype.

Authors also say there was essentially no difference in this trait between religious and nonreligious people. And this challenges stereotypes even more.

One thing Leary is keen to point out is how undervalued intellectual humility is as a personality trait.

Admitting that you could be wrong

The authors define intellectual humility as the opposite of intellectual arrogance. Intellectually humble people still have strong beliefs, but are willing to be proven wrong.

Wanting to be right can be damaging. Indeed, many people struggle to accept being incorrect about something without feeling embarrassed or even humiliated.

But knowing that you could be wrong can actually help you get things right. The researchers showed that people who display intellectual humility did a better job of evaluating evidence. For example, when presented with arguments about the benefits of flossing, intellectually humble people could better distinguish strong arguments from weak ones.

In the study, participants read essays arguing for or against religion, and then answered questions about each author’s personality. Intellectually humble people were less likely to judge someone’s character based on his or her views. Intellectually arrogant people, on the other hand, gave writers lower scores in morality, honesty, competence and warmth if they disagreed with their piece of writing.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

More humility needed 

There can be a great freedom in not wanting to be right. It creates an open-mindedness in which you can fully question your beliefs. This can benefit all kinds of heated political and religious debates, relationships and work-related matters. Leary says not being afraid of being wrong “is a value we could promote”. He believes if we were “more intellectually humble we’d be less frustrated with each other”.

Leary and his co-authors suggest that it’s possible to teach and encourage this trait. And one philosopher has attempted to do exactly that. Jason Baehr set up the Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach, which aims to promote values such as intellectual humility.

This kind of education is promising. But of course, you can develop this kind of humility without studying it. The next time you find yourself in a heated discussion, consider how important it is to you to be right. Admitting you could be wrong could steer the conversation in a much more productive direction. And help to avoid it getting personal.

Get Involved!

– Check out more articles from The Canary’s Science section.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop

 

The Canary Fund us

Comments are closed