Big differences in the ways conservatives and liberals think about solving the nation’s most pressing problems couldn’t be more apparent during this presidential election cycle.
But political ideas aside, people who hold conservative versus liberal perspectives appear to differ in everyday thinking processes and problem solving, according to research from Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).
When solving short (non-political) verbal problems in an experiment, liberals were more likely than conservatives to achieve solutions with a sudden insight or “Aha!” In contrast, both groups achieved roughly an equal number of solutions through gradual, analytical processing.
Different from instinctive or gut reactions, insight problem solving occurs when after working on a problem for awhile and maybe feeling stuck, a solution unexpectedly emerges into consciousness in an ‘Aha!’ moment. The problem is suddenly seen in a new light, often surprising the solvers who are typically unaware of how the reorganization of their thought processes occurred.