Citation

Who is Holier than Thou?: Moral Self-Righteousness Among Conservatives and Liberals

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Abstract:

Routinely in American political discourse both conservatives and liberals accuse the other side of moral self-righteousness. (For example, commentators on FOX News often say that "conservatives only think that liberals are wrong, whereas liberals think conservatives are bad people.") While past research has examined dogmatism, closed-mindedness, cognitive rigidity, and attitude certainty as a function of political views, usually finding that conservatives are more dogmatic, closed-minded and certain about their views than liberals, no study has examined moral self-righteousness about one's political views as a function of political orientation. This presentation reports the results of an empirical study, apparently the first of its kind, involving 1,000 participants (drawn from 3 samples: 600 from a nationwide online survey, 200 college undergraduates, and 200 Mechanical Turk respondents) who completed a demographic survey, a survey measuring their political knowledge and engagement, a detailed survey of their political orientation on social, economic and foreign policy issues, a detailed survey about their views of those having opposing political views and how difficult it would be for them to work with, date or socialize with people having those views, a self-righteousness scale, a tendency to proselytize scale, and standard measures of dogmatism, closed-mindedness, and authoritarianism. Across all measures of political orientation (omnibus political orientation, orientation on social vs. economic vs. foreign policy issues, standard measures of conservatism), there was a significant quadratic effect. Very conservative and very liberal participants were significantly more likely than others to say that they feel that those having the opposite political views were less moral than they are and that they would find it difficult to work or associate with those having opposite views, and they also scored significantly higher on standard measures of self-righteousness and proselytization. There were no differences between very conservative vs. very liberal participants, the effect sizes were the strongest vis-a-vis political views on social isues, and the findings held even when controlling for factors such as political knowledge and dogmatism. Implications of the findings for our understanding of political personality, and for interventions aimed at improving understanding across political divides, will be discussed.

Author's Keywords:

Political Self-Righteousness, Moral Self-Righteousness, Conservatives, Liberals
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Association:
Name: Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology
URL:
http://ispp.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p729332_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Redding, Richard. "Who is Holier than Thou?: Moral Self-Righteousness Among Conservatives and Liberals" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Ergife Palace Hotel, Rome, Italy, Jul 04, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p729332_index.html>

APA Citation:

Redding, R. E. , 2014-07-04 "Who is Holier than Thou?: Moral Self-Righteousness Among Conservatives and Liberals" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Ergife Palace Hotel, Rome, Italy <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p729332_index.html

Publication Type: Paper (prepared oral presentation)
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Routinely in American political discourse both conservatives and liberals accuse the other side of moral self-righteousness. (For example, commentators on FOX News often say that "conservatives only think that liberals are wrong, whereas liberals think conservatives are bad people.") While past research has examined dogmatism, closed-mindedness, cognitive rigidity, and attitude certainty as a function of political views, usually finding that conservatives are more dogmatic, closed-minded and certain about their views than liberals, no study has examined moral self-righteousness about one's political views as a function of political orientation. This presentation reports the results of an empirical study, apparently the first of its kind, involving 1,000 participants (drawn from 3 samples: 600 from a nationwide online survey, 200 college undergraduates, and 200 Mechanical Turk respondents) who completed a demographic survey, a survey measuring their political knowledge and engagement, a detailed survey of their political orientation on social, economic and foreign policy issues, a detailed survey about their views of those having opposing political views and how difficult it would be for them to work with, date or socialize with people having those views, a self-righteousness scale, a tendency to proselytize scale, and standard measures of dogmatism, closed-mindedness, and authoritarianism. Across all measures of political orientation (omnibus political orientation, orientation on social vs. economic vs. foreign policy issues, standard measures of conservatism), there was a significant quadratic effect. Very conservative and very liberal participants were significantly more likely than others to say that they feel that those having the opposite political views were less moral than they are and that they would find it difficult to work or associate with those having opposite views, and they also scored significantly higher on standard measures of self-righteousness and proselytization. There were no differences between very conservative vs. very liberal participants, the effect sizes were the strongest vis-a-vis political views on social isues, and the findings held even when controlling for factors such as political knowledge and dogmatism. Implications of the findings for our understanding of political personality, and for interventions aimed at improving understanding across political divides, will be discussed.


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