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Title:Ideological differences in the use of social class categories to organize and understand society
Author(s):Ondish, Peter
Director of Research:Stern, Chadly
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Stern, Chadly
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cohen, Dov; Albarracín, Dolores; Fraley, Chris; Cheng, Joey; Baillargeon, Renée
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):political ideology
social class
policy attitudes
Abstract:Why do liberals and conservatives often fail to see eye-to-eye on social policies that seek to reduce economic inequality in the United States? I integrate a historical/cultural perspective with contemporary research on liberals’ and conservatives’ motivations to show that social policy disagreements result in part from a fundamental difference between how liberals and conservatives attempt to organize and understand a complex and ambiguous social world with social class categories. Specifically, I first investigated whether liberals and conservatives differ in their beliefs of social class as an organizing principle (SCOP) through which they understand the world (Study 1). In Study 2, I investigated whether liberals and conservatives differ in their SCOP beliefs because of differences in automatic or controlled cognitive processes. I found that liberals and conservative experience similar category activation of social class categories, but differ in how they deliberately use social class descriptors to describe social others. I then tested whether liberals’ and conservatives’ motivations explained ideological differences in SCOP beliefs (Study 3). In Study 4, I further investigated whether liberal-conservative differences in SCOP beliefs are motivationally driven by experimentally manipulating the relevance of the system in question. Finally, Study 5 investigated whether SCOP beliefs explained ideological differences in social policy attitudes that address inequality (Study 5). Overall, the present research suggests that liberals and conservatives may differ in their social policy attitudes because they construct different understandings of society based on social class.
Issue Date:2019-04-12
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Peter Ondish
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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