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

See all articles by Pelin Kesebir

Pelin Kesebir

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Center for Investigating Healthy Minds

Erik Phillips

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Jackie Anson

Central Methodist University

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Date Written: February 11, 2013

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Kesebir, Pelin and Phillips, Erik and Anson, Jackie and Pyszczynski, Tom and Motyl, Matt, Ideological Consistency across the Political Spectrum: Liberals are More Consistent but Conservatives Become More Consistent When Coping with Existential Threat (February 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2215306 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2215306

Pelin Kesebir (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Center for Investigating Healthy Minds ( email )

1500 Highland Avenue, Suite S119
Waisman Center
Madison, WI 53705-2280
United States

Erik Phillips

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs ( email )

1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-7150
United States

Jackie Anson

Central Methodist University ( email )

411 Central Methodist Square
Fayette, 65248
United States

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs ( email )

1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-7150
United States

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1007 W. Harrison St. (m/c 285)
Psychology Department
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1102 Behavioral Science Building (BSB)
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

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