I noted recently that Republican voters were actually getting more hostile to marriage equality over the last year, while Independents and Democrats were close in their support. I wondered if Obama's support was more central to a jump in Republican opposition than the substance of the issue itself. Social psychologist Dave Nussbaum points to several studies showing how close to incapable we are of analyzing or judging questions devoid of partisanship. A case in point:
In a pair of studies published in 2002, Lee Ross and his colleagues asked Israeli participants to evaluate a peace proposal that was an actual proposal submitted by either the Israeli or the Palestinian side. The trick they played was that, for some participants, they showed them the Israeli proposal and told them it was the Palestinian one, or they showed them the Palestinian proposal and told them it came from the Israeli side (the other half of participants saw a correctly attributed proposal). What they found was that the actual content of the plan didn’t matter nearly as much as whose plan they thought it was. In fact, Israeli participants felt more positively toward the Palestinian plan when they thought came from the Israeli side than they did toward the Israeli plan when they thought it came from the Palestinians. Let me repeat that: when the plans’ authorship was switched, Israelis liked the Palestinian proposal better than the Israeli one.
Forget the ants. We really are primates in the end, aren't we?