Delusions of advocacy: Breaking reality's constraints on motivated cognition.

Nina Strohminger (Pennsylvania State University)

December 17, 2021, 11:30–12:30


Room Auditorium 4


Wishful thinking is constrained by reality; people cannot believe the utterly implausible simply because they want to. Here, we uncover an exception to this basic principle of motivated cognition. We show that one goal in particular---the goal to advocate---systematically biases judgments in spite of strong countervailing evidence. This is more than a harmless delusion. Advocacy goals lead to greater endorsement of far-fetched `crackpot' theories, and impede the resolution of legal settlements that are in the best interests of advocates and their clients. These effects are unique to advocacy goals: when participants desire an outcome, but do not have a goal to advocate for it, reality constrains bias. This revision to the theoretical record illustrates a novel path to endorsement of implausible information.


Nina Strohminger (Pennsylvania State University), Delusions of advocacy: Breaking reality's constraints on motivated cognition., IAST General Seminar, Toulouse: IAST, December 17, 2021, 11:30–12:30, room Auditorium 4.