Breaking reality's constraints on motivated cognition [post]

Nina Strohminger, David Melnikoff
2022 unpublished
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 (Study 5), and impede performance in
more » ... (Study 6). These effects do not emerge from other kinds of goals: when people desire an outcome, but do not have a goal to advocate for it, reality constrains bias. Not only does this require a revision to the theoretical record, it serves as a cautionary warning to managers and other decision-makers, who are susceptible to the biasing forces of advocacy.
doi:10.31234/ fatcat:oqow6xqdejbedompxm4kzubvmu