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Political conservatism as motivated social cognition

Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Sulloway, F., & Kruglanski, A.W. (2003).  Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 339-375.


Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure,
regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological
variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r  .50); system instability (.47);
dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (–.32); uncertainty tolerance (–.27);
needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (–.20); fear of threat and loss (.18);
and self-esteem (–.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification
of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty
and threat.

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