Ideological Consistency across the Political Spectrum: Liberals are More Consistent but Conservatives Become More Consistent When Coping with Existential Threat
52 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 11, 2013
We conceptualized ideological consistency as the extent to which an individual’s attitudes toward diverse political issues are coherent among themselves from an ideological standpoint. Four studies (Studies 1, 3–5) compared the ideological consistency of self-identified liberals and conservatives and two of these studies examined how their ideological consistency is affected by mortality salience. Across diverse samples and attitude measures, liberals were typically higher in ideological consistency than conservatives. In other words, conservatives’ individual-level attitudes toward diverse political issues (e.g., abortion, gun control, welfare) were more dispersed across the political spectrum than were liberals’ attitudes. An additional study demonstrated that our findings violate conventional wisdom: the large majority of people believed, regardless of their own political orientation, that conservatives are more consistent than liberals or that the groups do not differ. Studies 4 and 5 demonstrated that death reminders increase ideological consistency for conservatives and decrease ideological consistency for liberals.
Keywords: ideology, political attitudes, liberals, conservatives, terror management, consistency
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