The End of the End of Ideology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The "end of ideology" was declared by social scientists in the aftermath of World War II. They argued that ordinary citizens lack meaningful, coherent political attitudes that could be classified as "liberal" (or leftist) or "conservative" (or rightist). The end-of-ideologists were so influential that researchers ignored the topic of ideology for many years. However, current political realities, recent data from the American National Election Studies, and results from an emerging psychological paradigm provide strong grounds for returning to the study of ideology. Studies reveal that there are indeed meaningful political and psychological differences that covary with ideological self-placement. Situational variables-including system threat and mortality salience-and dispositional variables-including openness and conscientiousness-affect the degree to which an individual is drawn to liberal versus conservative leaders, parties, and opinions. A psychological analysis is also useful for understanding the political divide between "red states" and "blue states."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIdeology, Psychology, and Law
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199918638
ISBN (Print)9780199737512
StatePublished - May 24 2012


  • Conservative
  • Ideology
  • Liberal
  • Mortality salience
  • Political orientation
  • System threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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