Re-construing politics: The dual impacts of abstraction on political ideology

Publication Type:
Journal Article
European Journal of Social Psychology, 2016, 46 (5), pp. 649 - 656
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Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The influence of construal level on political ideology is unclear. Some research says that abstraction polarizes political attitudes by making liberals more liberal and conservatives more conservative. Other research instead argues that an abstract construal causes people to exhibit similar political attitudes as each other. The current research presents two experiments in which abstraction polarizes political attitudes on issues of social inequality. However, abstraction also increases traditionalism, and so it increases a preference for maintaining the societal status quo, such as by increasing one's disagreement with or opposition to homosexuality. The dual impacts of abstraction parallel the two distinct dimensions of political ideology (i.e., acceptance of social inequality and preference for the status quo), both of which prior research on construal level has not yet considered. Overall, the current findings indicate that the effects of construal level and the dimensions underlying political ideology need to be teased apart to fully understand the exact relationship between the two.
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