A meta-analysis by Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway (2003) suggested that existential needs to reduce threat were associated with political conservatism. Nevertheless, some maintain that fear plays as prevalent a role on the left as the right. In an attempt to resolve this issue, we reviewed evidence from 134 different samples (N = 369,525) and 16 countries-a database 16 times larger than those previously considered. Although the association between fear of death and conservatism was not reliable, there was a significant effect of mortality salience (r = .08-.13) and a significant association between subjective perceptions of threat and conservatism (r = .12-.31). Exposure to objectively threatening circumstances, such as terrorist attacks, was associated with a "conservative shift" at individual (r = .07-.14) and aggregate (r = .29-.66) levels of analysis. Psychological reactions to fear and threat thus convey a small-to-moderate political advantage for conservative leaders, parties, policies, and ideas.
- Existential motivation
- Political conservatism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology