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Self-Affirmation and Identity-Driven Political Behavior

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  • Benjamin A. Lyons, University of Utah
  • ,
  • Christina E. Farhart, Carleton College
  • ,
  • Michael P. Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • ,
  • John Kotcher, George Mason University
  • ,
  • Matthew Levendusky, University of Pennsylvania
  • ,
  • Joanne M. Miller, University of Delaware
  • ,
  • Brendan Nyhan, Darthmouth College
  • ,
  • Kaitlin T. Raimi, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • ,
  • Jason Reifler, University of Exeter
  • ,
  • Kyle L. Saunders, Colorado State University
  • ,
  • Rasmus Skytte
  • Xiaoquan Zhao, George Mason University

Psychological attachment to political parties can bias people's attitudes, beliefs, and group evaluations. Studies from psychology suggest that self-affirmation theory may ameliorate this problem in the domain of politics on a variety of outcome measures. We report a series of studies conducted by separate research teams that examine whether a self-affirmation intervention affects a variety of outcomes, including political or policy attitudes, factual beliefs, conspiracy beliefs, affective polarization, and evaluations of news sources. The different research teams use a variety of self-affirmation interventions, research designs, and outcomes. Despite these differences, the research teams consistently find that self-affirmation treatments have little effect. These findings suggest considerable caution is warranted for researchers who wish to apply the self-affirmation framework to studies that investigate political attitudes and beliefs. By presenting the "null results" of separate research teams, we hope to spark a discussion about whether and how the self-affirmation paradigm should be applied to political topics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Political Science
Pages (from-to)225-240
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Self-affirmation, polarization, partisanship, political behavior, CLIMATE-CHANGE, INFORMATION, BELIEFS, ACCEPTANCE, PSYCHOLOGY, SUPPORT, ORIGINS

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