The End of the End of Ideology

John T. Jost

in Ideology, Psychology, and Law

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737512
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918638 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

The End of the End of Ideology

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The “end of ideology” was declared by social scientists in the aftermath of World War II. They argued that ordinary citizens lack meaningful, coherent political attitudes that could be classified as “liberal” (or leftist) or “conservative” (or rightist). The end-of-ideologists were so influential that researchers ignored the topic of ideology for many years. However, current political realities, recent data from the American National Election Studies, and results from an emerging psychological paradigm provide strong grounds for returning to the study of ideology. Studies reveal that there are indeed meaningful political and psychological differences that covary with ideological self-placement. Situational variables—including system threat and mortality salience—and dispositional variables—including openness and conscientiousness—affect the degree to which an individual is drawn to liberal versus conservative leaders, parties, and opinions. A psychological analysis is also useful for understanding the political divide between “red states” and “blue states.”

Keywords: ideology; political orientation; liberal; conservative; system threat; mortality salience

Chapter.  17646 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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