Are needs to manage uncertainty and threat associated with political conservatism or ideological extremity?

John T. Jost, Jaime L. Napier, Hulda Thorisdottir, Samuel D. Gosling, Tibor P. Palfai, Brian Ostafin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Three studies are conducted to assess the uncertainty threat model of political conservatism, which posits that psychological needs to manage uncertainty and threat are associated with political orientation. Results from structural equation models provide consistent support for the hypothesis that uncertainty avoidance (e.g., need for order, intolerance of ambiguity, and lack of openness to experience) and threat management (e.g., death anxiety, system threat, and perceptions of a dangerous world) each contributes independently to conservatism (vs. liberalism). No support is obtained for alternative models, which predict that uncertainty and threat management are associated with ideological extremism or extreme forms of conservatism only. Study 3 also reveals that resistance to change fully mediates the association between uncertainty avoidance and conservatism, whereas opposition to equality partially mediates the association between threat and conservatism. Implications for understanding the epistemic and existential bases of political orientation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-1007
Number of pages19
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume33
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2007

Keywords

  • Conservatism
  • Ideology
  • Liberalism
  • Political orientation
  • Threat
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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