Paola Iannello Alice Cancer Alessandro Antonietti Carola Salvi

Navigating the pandemic emergency: The role of socio-cognitive polarization in complex situations

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There are numerous conditions and ways through which rigidity can manifest in people’s reasoning. Our review aims to focus on the construct of socio-cognitive polarization, which encompasses both cognitive and social rigidity and its relationship with performance measures of cognitive rigidity as problem-solving. Here we will synthesize a recent wave of research suggesting that susceptibility to extreme political ideology is sculpted by an individual’s cognitively-rooted reasoning architecture that goes above and beyond voting decisions. Foremost we highlight a novel approach to measuring flexibility using content-free problem-solving tasks in contrast to self-report measures and qualitative questionnaires. Further, the results of a series of studies conducted in the last years suggest that the boundaries of rigidity extend well beyond voting decisions to include aspects of rigidity such as conservatism and xenophobia.


  • socio-cognitive polarization
  • cognitive flexibility
  • problem-solving
  • xenofobia
  • absolutistic thinking
  • political orientation
  • Covid-19


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