In one study, the researchers analyzed the responses of nearly 1,500 undergraduates sorted along the usual liberal-conservative continuum to a questionnaire asking them to think about various social and political issues. Their answers were then coded for integrative complexity and compared. It turns out that conservatives showed more complexity when dealing with topics like the death penalty, socialism, and refugees. Liberal responses were more complex when considering pre-marital sex, biblical truth, and alcohol. Overall, they report that liberals showed no greater complexity in thinking than conservatives did.
A similar study analyzed liberal and conservative responses to a 30-item questionnaire. Again, conservatives exhibited more complex thinking on some topics, including open-door immigration, smoking, castration, and easy access to birth control. Liberals were complex when discussing organized religion, abortion on demand, making racial discrimination illegal, and being assertive.
The researchers also found that both liberals and conservatives hold stronger attitudes for the topics on which they are more simple-minded.