Can a psychological theory of ideological differences explain contextual variability in the contents of political attitudes?

John T. Jost, Margarita Krochik, Danielle Gaucher, Erin P. Hennes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this brief reply, we explore the ways in which a psychological theory of ideology as motivated social cognition (e.g., Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003a, 2003b) can explain several distinct but related empirical phenomena, including why (a) epistemic and existential needs to reduce uncertainty and threat would be positively associated with social or cultural conservatism in virtually all societal contexts and yet be associated with support for either capitalism or socialism, depending upon the local context; (b) conservatives eventually come to support policy positions that were once considered to be liberal or progressive; (c) liberals are more likely than conservatives to exhibit cognitive complexity and engage in "value trade-offs" between equality and freedom; and (d) time pressure and cognitive load produce "conservative shifts" in political opinion, even among liberal respondents. By clarifying the similarities and differences between the two core dimensions of Left-Right ideology (i.e., advocating vs. resisting social change and rejecting vs. accepting inequality) and highlighting the role of status quo acceptance in conservative ideology, we hope to demonstrate that a psychological theory of Left-Right differences can account for contextual variability in the contents of political attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Inquiry
Volume20
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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