Stowe Boyd> "People are more likely to arrive at conclusions ... that they want to arrive at," the psychologist Ziva Kunda [wrote](http://pages.ucsdSee more.edu/~cmckenzie/Kunda1990PsychBulletin.pdf) in a seminal 1990 paper, making the case that motivated reasoning is real and pervasive.
> And there's plenty of proof of it today. When Gallup [polled](http://www.gallup.com/poll/197474/economic-confidence-surges-election.aspx?g_source=Economy&g_medium=lead&g_campaign=tiles) Americans the week before and the week after the presidential election, Democrats and Republicans flipped their perceptions of the economy. But nothing had actually changed about the economy. What changed was which team was winning.
> Motivated reasoning plays into why people from poor communities were willing to vote for Trump, a candidate whose party is keen to pare back the social safety net and has a proposed a health care bill that will lead to millions more becoming uninsured.
> One crucial thing to know about motivated reasoning is that you often don't realize you're doing it. We automatically have an easier time [remembering information that fits our world views](http://pages.ucsd.edu/~cmckenzie/Kunda1990PsychBulletin.pdf). We're simply quicker to recognize information that confirms what we already know, which makes us blind to facts that discount it.
Stowe Boyd> Nour Kteily, a psychologist at Northwestern University, conducts research on one of the darkest, most ancient, and most disturbing mental programsSee more encoded into our minds: dehumanization, the ability to see fellow men and women as less than human.
> Psychologists are no strangers to this subject. But the prevailing wisdom has been that most people are not willing to admit to having prejudice against others.
> In Kteily's studies, participants --- typically groups of mostly white Americans --- are shown this (scientifically [inaccurate](https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2012/10/27/what-our-most-famous-evolutionary-cartoon-gets-wrong/drKMD5121W6EUxXJ4pF0YL/story.html)) image of a human ancestor slowly learning how to stand on two legs and become fully human. And then they are told to rate members of different groups --- such as Muslims, Americans, and Swedes --- on how evolved they are on a scale of 0 to 100.
> Many people in these studies give members of other groups a perfect score, 100, fully human. But many others give others scores putting them closer to animals.
> With the "Ascent of Man" tool, Kteily and collaborators Emile Bruneau, Adam Waytz, and Sarah Cotterill found that, on average, Americans rate other Americans as being highly evolved, with an average score in the 90s. But disturbingly, many also rated Muslims, Mexican immigrants, and Arabs as less evolved.
> "We typically see scores that average 75, 76," for Muslims, Kteily says. And about a quarter of study participants will rate Muslims on a score of 60 or below.