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Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification$
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John T. Jost, Aaron C. Kay, and Hulda Thorisdottir

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320916.001.0001

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ContentsFRONT MATTER

Motivated Social Cognition and Ideology: Is Attention to Elite Discourse a Prerequisite for Epistemically Motivated Political Affinities?

Chapter:
(p.267) CHAPTER 11 Motivated Social Cognition and Ideology: Is Attention to Elite Discourse a Prerequisite for Epistemically Motivated Political Affinities?
Source:
Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification
Author(s):

Christopher M. Federico

Paul Goren

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320916.003.011

Political psychologists have long searched for links between citizens' personality characteristics and their political worldviews. In particular, much research has examined the relationship between epistemic motivation-the needs or motives that lead individuals to acquire and use information in order to construct a view of reality—and ideological self—placement. Most notably, this line of work suggests that the need for closure, or the need for "any firm belief on a given topic, as opposed to confusion and uncertainty" is associated with greater political conservatism. Extending and qualifying this argument, the chapter argues that the connection between epistemic motivation and ideology may depend on the extent to which citizens are familiar enough with key political ideas and debates, as propounded by political elites, to "correctly" select the orientation that satisfies their epistemic needs. Using data from a student and an adult sample, support is found for this hypothesis, demonstrating that the relationship between the need for closure and ideological orientation is stronger among those high in political expertise.

Keywords:   closure, cognition, elite discourse, epistemic motivation, political choice

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