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Motivated Reasoning

Motivated reasoning is a concept that helps explain how people organize and process information when forming their opinions and attitudes. Motivated reasoning is an umbrella term that encompasses several cognitive information-processing and -management strategies, including (but not limited to) selective perception, confirmation bias, and selective memory. Specifically, the term motivated reasoning refers to goal-oriented information processing; an important assumption of motivated reasoning is that all information processing is goal driven but that there are different goals for different situations. These goals for processing can be accuracy based or directional. Information processing in service of a directional goal motivates individuals to arrive at conclusions that fit with one’s prior held beliefs. When processing is motivated by accuracy goals, people process information to arrive at an ...

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