Study: Across all ideological groups, higher cognitive ability and intellectual humility predicts support for free speech

Free­dom of Speech: A Right for Every­body, or Only for Like-Mind­ed Peo­ple? (Het­ero­dox Academy):

Free­dom of speech is often con­sid­ered key to a well-func­tion­al democ­ra­cy. In many coun­tries, free­dom of speech is con­sid­ered a more impor­tant demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ue than reg­u­lar elec­tions. But do peo­ple gen­uine­ly believe in the virtues of open debates by sup­port­ing free­dom of speech for every social group? Or do they sup­port free speech only for their own groups? In a recent­ly pub­lished paper in Social Psy­cho­log­i­cal and Per­son­al­i­ty Sci­ence, we aimed to answer these ques­tions, and we sought to explore whether high­er cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty was asso­ci­at­ed with more prin­ci­pled posi­tions on free speech. We expect­ed that peo­ple with high­er cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties would be more inclined to embrace the open exchange of ideas, where­in view­points can be scru­ti­nized and chal­lenged in order to fos­ter informed deci­sion mak­ing and knowledge…

The results do sug­gest that indi­vid­u­als with high­er cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty are more appre­cia­tive of the free flow of diver­gent ideas by groups at var­i­ous places on the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum. Indeed, even when these groups voice ideas that they don’t like.

The Study:

Dis­liked but Free to Speak: Cog­ni­tive Abil­i­ty Is Relat­ed to Sup­port­ing Free­dom of Speech for Groups Across the Ide­o­log­i­cal Spec­trum (Social Psy­cho­log­i­cal and Per­son­al­i­ty Science):

  • Abstract: Free­dom of speech for all cit­i­zens is often con­sid­ered as a cor­ner­stone of demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­eties. In three stud­ies, we exam­ined the rela­tion­ship between cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty and sup­port for free­dom of speech for a vari­ety of social groups across the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum (N 1 varies between 1,373 and 18,719, N 2 = 298, N 3 = 395). Cor­rob­o­rat­ing our the­o­ret­i­cal expec­ta­tions, although cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty was relat­ed to more affec­tive prej­u­dice toward rel­a­tive­ly con­ser­v­a­tive groups and less affec­tive prej­u­dice toward rel­a­tive­ly lib­er­al groups (Study 2), peo­ple with high­er lev­els of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty were more in favor of free­dom of speech for all tar­get groups (Stud­ies 1–3). The rela­tion­ship between cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty and free­dom of speech sup­port was medi­at­ed by intel­lec­tu­al humil­i­ty (pre­reg­is­tered Study 3). These results indi­cate that cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty con­tributes to sup­port for the demo­c­ra­t­ic right of free­dom of speech for all social–ideological groups.

The Study in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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