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More than Ideology: Conservative-Liberal Identity and Receptivity to Political Cues


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Principal Investigator(s):

Ariel Malka
Yeshiva University
Email: amalka@yu.edu
Home Page: http://www.yu.edu/faculty/pages/Malka-Ariel

Sample size: 799
Field period: 12/28/2007 - 1/26/2008

 

Abstract:

To many commentators and social scientists, Americans’ stances on political issues are to an important extent driven by an underlying conservative-liberal ideological dimension. Self-identification as conservative vs. liberal is regarded as a marker of this dimension. However, past research has not thoroughly distinguished between identification and ideology. This research evaluates the hypothesis that conservative-liberal identity, independent of ideology, is associated with a tendency to follow political cues when forming stances on newly politicized issues. In Study 1, conservative-liberal identity, measured in 2000, had an independent prospective effect on support for invading Iraq in 2002 and support for the Iraq War in 2004, controlling for substantive ideology, party identification, and demographics. In Study 2 (conducted with this TESS dataset), conservative- and liberal-identifiers adopted stances on farm subsidy policy, and internalized beliefs in support of those stances, based on randomly varied messages about which ideological group supports which stance. Discussion focuses on the interactive impact of A) political discourse and B) identity-based persuasion on the contemporary organization of political attitudes.

Hypotheses:

1) Ideological self-identification will moderate the effect of ideological cues on attitude about farm subsidies (i.e., conservative- and liberal-identifiers will be more likely to support abolition of farm subsidies when they are told that conservatives and liberals, respectively, support such abolition).
2) The effect of ideological cues on farm subsidy attitudes will be mediated by beliefs in support of those stances (i.e, ideological identifers' beliefs that farm subsidies help farmers, keep food costs low, keep developing countries poor, and cost taxpayer money will mediate the effect of ideological cues on farm subsidy attitudes.)

Experimental Manipulations:

Respondents were told that either "conservatives", "liberals", or "some groups" support the abolition of farm subsidies.

Key Dependent Variables:

- Support of abolition of farm subsidies
- Beliefs that farm subsidies help farmers, keep food costs low, keep developing countries poor, and cost taxpayer money.

Summary of Findings:

1) Ideological self-identification moderated the effect of ideological cues on attitude about farm subsidies (i.e., conservative- and liberal-identifiers were more likely to support abolition of farm subsidies when they were told that conservatives and liberals, respectively, support such abolition).
2) The effect of ideological cues on farm subsidy attitudes was mediated by beliefs in support of those stances (i.e, ideological identifers' beliefs that farm subsidies help farmers, keep food costs low, keep developing countries poor, and cost taxpayer money mediated the effect of ideological cues on farm subsidy attitudes. )

References:

Malka, A., & Lelkes, Y. (2010). More than ideology: Conservative-liberal identity and receptivity to political cues. Social Justice Research, 23, 156-188


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