Are neo-liberals more intuitive? Undetected libertarians confound the relation between analytic cognitive style and economic conservatism

  • Onurcan YilmazEmail author
  • S. Adil Saribay
  • Ravi Iyer


Previous studies consistently showed that analytic cognitive style (ACS) is negatively correlated with social conservatism, but there are mixed findings concerning its relation with economic conservatism. Most tests have relied on a unidimensional (liberal-conservative) operationalization of political orientation. Libertarians tend not only to identify themselves as conservative on this scale but also to score higher on ACS than liberals and conservatives. The presence of libertarians might be the reason for the above-mentioned mixed findings. We investigated the relation between social and economic conservatism and ACS (operationalized using the Cognitive Reflection Test; CRT) in a large, web-based sample. There was a negative correlation between CRT and social conservatism both when libertarians were included and excluded. However, the correlation between CRT and economic conservatism was significantly reduced in magnitude and became non-significant when libertarians were excluded. The results support the argument that the undetected presence of libertarians may confound the ACS-economic conservatism relation.


Analytic cognitive style Libertarians Liberals Conservatives Cognitive reflection test 



We thank Gordon Pennycook and Thomas Talhelm for their helpful comments.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDogus UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Bogaziçi UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  3. 3.

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