I Know That I Know Nothing: Can Puncturing the Illusion of Explanatory Depth Overcome the Relationship Between Attitudinal Dissimilarity and Prejudice?

Jan Voelkel, Mark J. Brandt, and Matteo Colombo


People are prejudiced toward groups they perceive as having a worldview dissimilar from their own. This link between perceived attitudinal dissimilarity and prejudice is so stable that it has been described as a psychological law. The current research tests whether reducing people’s (over-)confidence in their own understanding of policies by puncturing their illusion of explanatory depth in the political domain will reduce the link between perceived attitudinal dissimilarity and prejudice. In an initial pre-registered experiment (N = 296), we did not find support for our hypothesis, but exploratory analyses indicated that the hypothesized effect occurred for political moderates (but not for people who identified as strong liberals/conservatives). However, despite successfully manipulating people’s understanding of policies, in the main study (N = 492) we did not replicate the result of the initial experiment. We suggest potential explanations for our results and discuss future directions for research on breaking the link between attitudinal dissimilarity and prejudice.