The Politics of Attention: Differences in Visual Cognition Between Liberals and Conservatives

M. D. Dodd, J. R. Hibbing, K. B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Decades of research have provided important insight into the factors that drive human behavior. As opposed to just focusing on the separate contributions of nature versus nurture, behavior is now better conceptualized as being complex and multifaceted, meaning that a complete understanding of behavior can only be gleaned from investigating any and all factors that have the potential to be influential (biological, physiological, etc.). One individual differences variable that has received little attention from psychologists is political temperament despite the fact that a growing body of research finds that political orientations vary with an array of broader constructs. In this chapter, we summarize recent research using classic cognitive (and vision science) paradigms (gaze cueing, free viewing, visual search) to elucidate the differences between political conservatives and liberals. Although these correlations are not causal, they provide important insight into the types of factors (eg, biological) that could influence one's political beliefs and subsequent behavior. Moreover, they demonstrate important individual differences in behavior that can easily go unnoticed if they are not directly investigated.


  • Individual differences
  • Political temperament
  • Visual cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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