Self identity resonance, motivated reasoning, and the blindness of political decision making.
In general, when people are making a decision, they use their mirror neurons to visually imagine the future that will emerge if option 1 is selected, option 2 is selected, and then pick the one they prefer. There is no good wiring to consider variation, base probabilities, and other factors that would make the decision more ‘rational.” Evolution has taught us that in the speed accuracy tradeoff, speed should be prioritized over accuracy. Unfortunately, modern society is much different.
This leads to the real challenge of motivated reasoning – any option can have multiple possible outcomes and we decide which one to envision based on what we want to happen (this is usually unconscious of course, but very reliable). So for the option we prefer, we imagine the best possible outcome and the one we don’t prefer we imagine the worst. I am using hyperbole a little bit here, but unfortunately not as much as you might think.
This goes a long way to explaining the gridlock in Washington. It is easy for liberals to imagine the best possible future that could result of extensive implementation of liberal policies and to imagine the worst possible outcomes of the extensive implementation of conservative policies. It is equally easy for conservatives to imagine the best possible results of extensive conservative policies and the worst possible results of liberal policies.
The gridlock emerges because these visions of the future are just SOOOO different that the other side seems crazy. Even if someone acknowledges that they could be slightly wrong, the other side’s vision looks like its from another planet. This other person must be totally wrong – and therefore it is not worth debating or compromising.
Hence – gridlock.