Radical political views of all sorts seem to shape our lives to an almost unprecedented extent. But what attracts people to the fringes? A new study from researchers at University College London offers some insight into one characteristic of those who hold extreme beliefs—their metacognition, or ability to evaluate whether or not they might be wrong.
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“It’s been known for some time now that in studies of people holding radical beliefs, that they tend to… express higher confidence in their beliefs than others,” says Steve Fleming, a UCL cognitive neuroscientist and one of the paper’s authors. “But it was unknown whether this was just a general sense of confidence in everything they believe, or whether it was reflective of a change in metacognition.”
He and his colleagues set out…