We the People: Intergroup Interdependence Breeds Liberalism

Jojanneke van der Toorn, Jaime L. Napier, John F. Dovidio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whereas much social psychological research has focused on the conditions that lead to political conservatism, the current research suggests that instilling a sense of intergroup interdependence can increase political liberalism and, in turn, foster concern for universal welfare. Using both correlational (Study 1) and experimental (Study 2) methodologies, we find convergent support for the novel hypothesis that perceived interdependence between groups in society increases people's support for human rights because it increases liberalism. In addition to establishing the hypothesized effect, we empirically distinguished the effect of intergroup interdependence from that of intragroup (or "interpersonal") interdependence, which was related to conservatism. This research presents a novel demonstration of the effect of intergroup interdependence on political attitudes and fills a gap in the literature on the conditions that lead to liberalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-622
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • human rights
  • ideological shift
  • intergroup interdependence
  • liberalism
  • policy support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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