Motivated Responding in Studies of Factual Learning

… In our article in Political Behavior, we reexamine the evidence for motivated learning. In a series of experiments, we presented people with tabular data from a putative study on a social policy, either gun control or raising the minimum wage. Following Kahan et al., we manipulated the congeniality of the result supported by the data (e.g., whether the result supports or undermines the effectiveness of gun control). We find that in some cases respondents are indeed more likely to learn the correct result when it is congenial, or in other words, when the result is consistent with their position on the issue. On the surface, this looks like textbook motivated learning.

But here is the crucial part of our study design: independently of the congeniality manipulation, we offered a random subset of respondents a small financial incentive to accurately report what they had learned. CONT.

Kabir Khanna & Gaurav Sood, Political Behavior