A Second Look at the Relationship between Cultural Theory, Political Ideology, and Political Knowledge
Joseph T. Ripberger
University of Oklahoma
University of Arkansas
College of Charleston
Michael D. Jones
Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
Hank C. Jenkins-Smith
University of Oklahoma - Department of Political Science
June 9, 2011
Numerous scholars have employed Cultural Theory (CT) to explain preferences, opinions, and risk perceptions across an array of issues. Recent research by Michaud, Carlisle, & Smith (2009) challenges the CT approach in two critical ways: first, they find that people with low levels of political knowledge are unable to recognize the latent dimensionality of egalitarianism and individualism, which are two of the four worldviews proposed by CT; second, they find that people with high levels of political knowledge treat these two dimensions as if they were opposite ends of a single scale of political ideology. This article presents a quasi-replication and extension of their study using a nationwide sample of 4,387 respondents in which measures of all four dimensions of CT were collected. We find that: 1) people with low levels of political knowledge are able to sort egalitarianism and individualism into coherent worldviews; 2) people with high levels of political knowledge do not collapse egalitarianism and individualism onto a single scale of political ideology; 3) all groups of people, regardless of political knowledge, are able to recognize all four dimensions of CT.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Date posted: June 12, 2011 ; Last revised: July 25, 2015
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