The Confident Conservative: Ideological Differences in Judgment and Decision-Making Confidence

Benjamin C. Ruisch, Chadly Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this research, we document the existence of broad ideological differences in judgment and decisionmaking confidence and examine their source. Across a series of 14 studies (total N = 4,575), we find that political conservatives exhibit greater judgment and decision-making confidence than do political liberals. These differences manifest across a wide range of judgment tasks, including both memory recall and “in the moment” judgments. Further, these effects are robust across different measures of confidence and both easy and hard tasks. We also find evidence suggesting that ideological differences in closuredirected cognition might in part explain these confidence differences. Specifically, conservatives exhibit a greater motivation to make rapid and efficient judgments and are more likely to “seize” on an initial response option when faced with a decision. Liberals, conversely, tend to consider a broader range of alternative response options before making a decision, which in turn undercuts their confidence relative to their more conservative counterparts. We discuss theoretical implications of these findings for the role of ideology in social judgment and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-544
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Confidence
  • Decision-making
  • Epistemic motivation
  • Ideology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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