Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Political Ideology and Voting Behavior as a Function of Threat and Political View Salience
by Sotola, Lukas K., M.S., Western Illinois University, 2018, 78; 10975008
Abstract (Summary)

Discrepant findings in past research have led to two competing hypotheses regarding threat’s effect on political ideology: the worldview defense and the conservative-shift hypotheses. According to the former, supported by terror management theory (TMT), threat will cause liberals to become more liberal and conservatives to become more conservative (political polarization). According to the latter, supported by system justification theory (SJT) and the theory of political conservatism as motivated social cognition, threat will cause liberals to become more conservative, and conservatives either to become more conservative or to remain at their current level of conservatism. To pit these two hypotheses against one another in a single experiment, it was tested whether making participants’ political views salient might influence the way that threat affects political views. It was predicted that when liberals wrote about their liberal views and when conservatives wrote about their conservative views, to make their political views more salient, threat would lead to greater political polarization. This was predicted because past TMT research has shown that threat will lead to a more fervent adherence to salient values, not to all aspects of a worldview. Thus, the salience of people’s political views should make them more likely to adhere to them following threat. On the other hand, it was predicted that in the control condition, all participants would become more conservative. This appears likely because of abundant past evidence that threat leads to greater conservatism and because threat tends to activate brain areas that are also associated with conservatism. It was, furthermore, predicted that threat might make liberal participants, but not conservative participants, less likely to participate in politics, because past research has shown that liberals will withdraw from participation in politics when they are more authoritarian, and threat tends to make people behave more like authoritarians. The former hypothesis was not supported; in fact, the only effect found was that conservatives became more liberal under threat, a finding that has no precedent in the literature. However, there was partial support for the latter hypothesis: both liberals and conservatives showed less of an intent to participate in politics following threat.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kelly, Kristine M.
Commitee: Lane, David J., Mathes, Eugene W.
School: Western Illinois University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 58/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Political science, Experimental psychology
Keywords: Conservatism, Liberalism, Political ideology, Political psychology, Threat
Publication Number: 10975008
ISBN: 978-0-438-80611-5
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