To the Editor:
Upset with Congress and the impasse that may be holding up a payment you need or desire? Well, before we get too angry, perhaps we should find out what researchers on the subject of gridlock have to say.
Researchers have found that when asking people like you and me to answer religious or political questions, we are often willing to lie or at least give an answer we think will benefit “our” group even if we know it is wrong. Here is the data: When the only incentive is benefiting our group, respondents average 30% correct answers. (These surveys are weighted to reveal a respondent’s bias for a particular group which fits their answers. Answers are not random errors. In this survey respondents were also given credit for answering, “I don’t know.” When given a money incentive to answer the very same questions, the same people got 70% of the questions correct.
This research give us all an opportunity to do some self-examination about how we share information as we participate in our democracy. If our desire to belong to a group can influence us to adjust the data, are we helping or hindering the best decision possible for our country and the world? It appears we know the accuracy of the data 70% of the time but lie to others and perhaps to ourselves to benefit our group.
So now that we know this information, what will we do with our new self-awareness? We may feel ineffective to change Congress but perhaps we could start with ourselves to share data accurately even if it hurts our group and instead act for the common good. It just might reveal to our leadership that we expect the same of them.