Motivated Reasoning in Technology Workers

Kory Feath, San Jose State University


The goal of this study is to investigate cognitive predictors for motivated reasoning, the process in which evidence evaluation is influenced by prior beliefs, in technology workers. Two hundred and twenty-one technology workers were recruited using Prolific and word-of-mouth to evaluate the conflicting evidence of social media causing digital harm. Past research has found that many individual cognitive styles do not predict motivated reasoning, but by using structural equations modeling to investigate the latent variable analytical/reflective thinking styles, I predicted that more active thinking styles will reduce motivated reasoning and be mediated by prior belief strength. A structural equations model found that analytic/reflective thinking styles did not predict motivated reasoning indirectly or mediated through prior belief strength. A post-hoc hierarchical multiple regression found that one thinking style, actively open-minded thinking, negatively predicted motivated reasoning after statistically controlling for socio-economic status and prior belief strength. Overall, these findings suggest that thinking styles more closely related to open-mindedness are more likely to reduce motivated reasoning in technology workers than analytic/reflective thinking.