Of two minds: The interactive effect of construal level and identity on political polarization

Jamie B. Luguri, Jaime L. Napier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Construal level theory posits that that when people are thinking abstractly (vs. concretely) they rely more on their core and consistent attitudes and values. However, past research has been mixed on whether abstract thinking causes liberals and conservatives to become more or less polarized. In the current research, we examine how identity salience moderates the effect of construal level on political polarization. Results from two studies suggest that identity salience (political vs. national) plays a key role in predicting how construal level affects attitude polarization. When people's political identity was made salient, liberals and conservatives were more polarized about political issues when thinking abstractly (vs. concretely). Conversely, when national identity was salient, liberals and conservatives were less polarized when in an abstract (vs. concrete) mindset. Broadly, this research highlights the importance identity salience has in understanding the role abstract (vs. concrete) thinking has on people's attitudes and values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)972-977
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Construal level
  • Identity
  • Polarization
  • Political attitude

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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