New Study: People Outsource Their Ignorance to Government

ScienceDaily is reporting a truly depressing new study that finds that when it comes to complicated economic issues, people default to trusting government to address them. Read it and weep:

The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"These studies were designed to help understand the so-called 'ignorance is bliss' approach to social issues," said author Steven Shepherd, a graduate student with the University of Waterloo in Ontario. "The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues." 

Through a series of five studies conducted in 2010 and 2011 with 511 adults in the United States and Canada, the researchers described "a chain reaction from ignorance about a subject to dependence on and trust in the government to deal with the issue."

In one study, participants who felt most affected by the economic recession avoided information challenging the government's ability to manage the economy. However, they did not avoid positive information, the study said. This study comprised 197 Americans with a mean age of 35 (111 women and 89 men), who had received complex information about the economy and had answered a question about how the economy is affecting them directly.

To test the links among dependence, trust and avoidance, researchers provided either a complex or simple description of the economy to a group of 58 Canadians, mean age 42, composed of 20 men and 38 women. The participants who received the complex description indicated higher levels of perceived helplessness in getting through the economic downturn, more dependence on and trust in the government to manage the economy, and less desire to learn more about the issue.

"This is despite the fact that, all else equal, one should have less trust in someone to effectively manage something that is more complex," said co-author Aaron C. Kay, PhD, of Duke University. "Instead, people tend to respond by psychologically 'outsourcing' the issue to the government, which in turn causes them to trust and feel more dependent on the government. Ultimately, they avoid learning about the issue because that could shatter their faith in the government."

Shatter their faith in the government?! Horrors! The study also found that when it comes to other complicated issues such as those concerning energy supplies and environment, people also tended to offload their thinking to the government. 

For more details, read the study, "On the perpetuation of ignorance: System dependence, system justification, and the motivated avoidance of sociopolitical information," in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology here [PDF]. 

Go here to find out why libertarians are a bit different. 

Hat tip Mark Sletten.

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  • Outsource your futures to Koch||

    Looks like being a KronyKoch pays-off.

    To: James W. Giddens, Trustee, SIPA Liquidation of MF Global, Inc. and Martin Glenn, United States Bankruptcy Judge

    From: Cathy Cuthbert

    RE: MF Global Heist

    I am a lucky, former MF Global client. Unfortunately, I’m not a multi-billionaire who got the memo. I had a modest account that was supplying me with a modest livelihood, when suddenly one Monday afternoon, my account was frozen, my livelihood was essentially gone and four years worth of trading profits vanished into cyber space....


    ________________
    Who could destroy the market (and the religioeconomic dogma of "free" markets) more than a KronyKoch who got the memo just before the heist?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Time wasting troll continues to waste time.

  • ||

    Oooh Ooh, I know!

    The incompetent marxist President Corzine bundled money for?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I like the Tee. I'd buy one but I'm afraid it might be taken literally.

  • ||

    Oyftk: Were you one of the subjects in this new study?

  • No, you were, Ron Bailey.||

    Or do you prefer a Non-State sociopolitical typology?

    NON-STATE AND STATE SOCIETIES
    http://faculty.smu.edu/rkemper.....ieties.pdf

    5 out of 5 "libertarians" prefer agricultural city-Statism.

  • Ants Farm Aphids!||

    Ant agricultural production is evil. Ants put their own colony on gambol lockdown from other ants. Ants have been known to bite the wings off the aphids in order to stop them from getting away and depriving the ants of one of their staple foods: the sugar-rich sticky honeydew which is excreted by aphids when they eat plants. Chemicals produced in the glands of ants can also sabotage the growth of aphid wings.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....212548.htm

  • First, Humans aren't ants.||

    Second, ants don't cause extreme deforestation and desertification.

    Third, ants haven't caused the Sixth Great extinction.

    But if you're comparing agricultural city-Statism to ant-think, It's a decent analogy. Remember, Libertarians are right in there with the rest of the hive-mind, especially when they say:

    We need government to protect our [fill in the blank] "rights."

    Only those laying claim to illegitimate property need cling to the aggression of government.

  • 1st, Humans & ants are animals||

    Second, ants do cause extreme deforestation and desertification from the perpective of an ant scale. It all depends on your scale

    Third, humans haven't caused the Sixth Great extinction.

    But if you're comparing agricultural city-Statism to libertarianism, it's an absurd analogy. Remember, Libertarians do not march in lock step, the only thing all libertairns agee on is the non-agression principle. It was best forulated by Rothbard when he wrote:

    "No one may threaten or commit violence ('aggress') against another man's person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory."

    In a libertarian society, only those violating the equal rights of others are legitimate targets of agression.

  • sevo||

    Ron, Ron, Ron...
    Vermin shit does not reason and is not open to it.

  • Political Officer SEVO offers||

    ...his help to correct your thinking and actions, Comrade Ron.

    Da, tovarisch, it's like that around here.

  • ||

    Shut up, sevo.

    +1 me

  • chris||

    'Vermin shit' is the worst version of 'don't feed the trolls' ever conceived'.

  • chris||

    5 out 6 correctly placed equals a damn good sentence, damn it!

  • Libertarians trust government||

    All libertarians express fear of wilderness and their love of city-STATISM whenever White Indian mentions one term:

    Non-State sociopolitical typology.

    NON-STATE AND STATE SOCIETIES
    http://faculty.smu.edu/rkemper.....ieties.pdf

    Libertarians are no different than any other city-STATISM bootlicking progressive.

  • Hypocrites||

    Who hate technology use technology to bitch about it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    An interesting study would be to have people learn the history of power and authority first and see if that changes the outcome of these test.

  • Jozef||

    While searching for a store to buy that t-shirt, I came across this piece of news. That made me want the t-shirt even more...

  • ||

    This explains much about my spouse. Too bad I could never have an honest conversation about it. Well, I could, but only if I could outsource the consequences.

  • ||

    To many people, the government has the same role in the psyche as parents. When things are complicated and overwhelming, they just want Mommy and Daddy to take care of it.

  • sevo||

    Shermer sees it more as a religious connection ('the god of the government' in his words), but they're both probably reflecting the same faith over reason.

  • ||

    I did see a study some years ago that correlated being raised in a traditional patriarchal family with belief in a traditional patriarchal God. It seems no coincidence that lack of a father figure in ones life, combined with religious skepticism, might correlate with a belief in "government as God."

  • ||

    "The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed,"

    This sounds like it could be a chicken and egg problem. It could be the people more intellectually curious have, by the time the poll is taken, ALREADY found out.

  • ||

    This sounds like it could be a chicken and egg problem. It could be the people more intellectually curious have, by the time the poll is taken, ALREADY found out.

    and were probably excluded from the study because of their "preconceived notions"

    "If exclude all the people wh already invest time and energy to stay well informed, we find that the remaining people don't want to spend the time and energy to stay well informed."

  • ||

    I wouldn't be surprised. It sounds like a typical pollster tactic.

    Dewey Defeats Truman!!!

  • ||

    ...if only there was a robot who had all the answers...

  • ||

    That would be Obamatron 2012.
    You're welcome!

  • ||

    You know who else had a robot that had all the answers?

  • Obviously||

    The answer is to abolish government.
    Problems with important complex issues over!
    You're welcome.

  • ||

    But who will build the roads? I've had bad experiences in the past with the Somalian Road Corporation.

  • Obviously||

    The smart people will build the roads, just like in Somalia.

  • JoJo Zeke||

    when it comes to complicated economic issues, people default to trusting government to address them.

    "Obama, he gonna pay for my gas and my mortgage!"

  • chris||

    They are still churning out happy little democrats in our public schools.

    The protesters — a pool reporter traveling with the president said there were at least 10 — continued shouting at Mr. Obama for about one minute. Students in the audience at Central High School tried to shout down the protesters with their own cheer: “Fired up and ready to go.” That did not immediately catch on with the crowd, so the students switched to a resounding “O-bam-a” chant, which drowned out the protesters.

    Got to wonder of what their educational diet consist. Give Our Dear Leader a blank check with no real spending cap, and he'll solve all those icky problems for you?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Ron, NEUTRINOS!!! COVER IT!!!
    Seriously, I would be fascinated to hear your opinion. And I would like to contrast the reaction (thus far) to this discovery as opposed to other scientific discoveries that were less well received. In particular, and you know where I am going, the Lewis Frank example, the Meta Model, and the whole of AGW discussions. I pose that because this particular branch of physics, while political within itself, has limited political implications outside the field, whereas climate science does, it is subject to less pressure to be manipulated.

  • ||

    "This study comprised 197 Americans with a mean age of 35 (111 women and 89 men)"
    Basic arithmetic anyone? Kind of messes with your reliability index, don't you think?

  • GILMORE||

    They forgot to mention the 3 illegal immigrants.

  • rts||

    Homer Ah-ah! Lisa, the whole reason we have elected officials is so we don't have to think all the time. Just like that rainforest scare a few years back. Our officials saw there was a problem and they fixed it, didn't they?

    Lisa No, Dad, I don't think--

    Homer Ah-ah! There's that word again.

  • GILMORE||

    The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

    And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    I think I've been pointing this out for like, the last 35 years.

  • NL_||

    It's easier to trust the government, since no matter how much knowledge you acquire the government is not going to listen to you anyway. It would take a great deal of effort and involvement to start a grassroots movement to stop a government plan; unless it involves something very personally important, most people don't think the time and effort are worth it given low chance of success. Plus people are naturally consensus-seeking.

    It takes a committed libertarian to enjoy analyzing a situation for logical contradictions that nobody else wants to hear about.

  • chris||

    Plus people are naturally consensus-seeking.

    Adam Smith's 'harmony of the sentiments'. I recall a party I attended where this boomer generation lady was just insistent on finding common ground on the gun control. There just simply MUST be some law concerning guns I would support (nope). EVEN the NRA supports SOME measures (they are the original gun regulation advocacy group). You're just being difficult for the sake of being difficult! Again, nope.

  • ||

    I think more probably they are "trusting others" not necessarily the government. I don't think Republicans or libertarians are really that much better, they also want to trust their experts and not get that informed.

  • ||

    So people substitute God for Government.

  • freeforall232||

    +Eternity

  • ||

    Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

  • jtuf||

    "These studies were designed to help understand the so-called 'ignorance is bliss' approach to social issues," said author Steven Shepherd, a graduate student with the University of Waterloo in Ontario. "The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues."

    Educators? Educators are government employees in government run facilities that use compulsorily attendance. Authors, reporters, actors, publishers, ect. are private sector workers who shape the minds of people who volunteer to learn from them. The fact that the researcher wants educators to fix this problem speaks volumes.

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