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date: 17 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Decades of research on motivated reasoning have found that citizens routinely place a higher priority on defending their preexisting beliefs than on updating them in response to new and conflicting experiences. Scholars have employed a variety of strategies in their efforts to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the reactive and polarizing effects of motivated reasoning. In this chapter, we provide a conceptual framework for navigating this body of literature that categorizes these efforts based upon how their interventions moderate the three central dimensions of information processing: priors, motivations, and considerations. This review of an extensive and growing literature finds that purely cognitive approaches to political communication are insufficient for overcoming subjects’ powerful drive to rationalize their own perspective. Accepting, understanding, and embracing the role of affect in shaping information processing offers promise for redirecting attention and reshaping intentions for the purpose of overcoming the limitations of situated perspectives.

Keywords: political beliefs, motivated reasoning, persuasion, affect, partisanship, ideology, communication, networks

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