My Current Publications:

The Human Empowerment Sequence and the Development of Libertarian Values: A Theoretical and Empirical Adjustment to the Human Empowerment Sequence. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

With: Evelyn Griffiths, Sarah Lamb, Rebecca Shortt & Eleanor Theochari


Keywords: authoritarianism, human empowerment, libertarianism, modernization

Abstract: Building on the work of Inglehart and colleagues, Welzel sets out a step-by-step theory explaining how democracies arise from processes of modernization. The intermediary stages in the causal chain he sets out explain the connection between action resources and emancipatory values. In short, Welzel provides strong evidence that people must first have the material, intellectual, and connective resources to exercise certain freedoms before they develop values that will motivate them to seek out those freedoms. Although we are convinced by much of Welzel’s argument, we also note a substantial overlap between these intermediary stages of Welzel’s theory and the individual-level authoritarianism literature. Integrating current theory on authoritarianism into Welzel’s thesis at the point of overlap provides for a distinct set of hypotheses and a more nuanced understanding of how individual differences work in Welzel’s theory. Analyses of data from Wave 5 of the World Values Survey and Vanhanen provide some initial evidence in support of our amended view of the intermediary stages of Welzel’s modernization thesis.

Publication: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Volume 48, Issue 5, 2017, Pages 771-789.
      DOI: 10.1177/0022022117699882
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Vote intent and beliefs about democracy in the United States

With: Judd R. Thornton


Keywords: democracy beliefs, political ideology, US politics, vote intent

Abstract: Democracy is an abstract and murky concept. This is particularly apparent in the wide variety of beliefs about democracy held by publics around the globe. Within democracies, political parties often define and name themselves with reference to a particular understanding of democracy. This article focuses on this partisan division in understanding democracy. We suggest that parties will attract those who share similar beliefs about democracy. Specifically, we look at whether differences in beliefs about democracy predict party support in the United States. Examining the responses of US participants to the fifth wave of the World Values Survey, we find that differences on a number of “essential” aspects of democracy among individuals predict vote intent (and party identification). Those more likely to understand democracy as a form of government that promotes civil liberties and the redistribution of wealth to protect the vulnerable are more likely to vote Democrat. Those who report stronger associations between democracy and both religious interpretation of laws and severe punishment of criminals are more likely to vote Republican. This research reinforces the idea that policy differences between the two main parties in the United States may derive from different understandings of the role of government in society.

Publication: Party Politics, 1354068816668677, first published on September 15, 2016.
      DOI: 10.1177/1354068816668677
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Authoritarianism, Socioethnic Diversity, and Political Participation across Countries

With: Shane P. Singh


Keywords: Political Participation, Authoritarianism

Abstract: Both theory and evidence suggest that authoritarians participate less in politics than the average individual. Yet, when predictions about participation among authoritarians are considered side-by-side with the comparative political participation literature, theory indicates that this dynamic should vary depending on context. As decreases in participation among authoritarians require a considerable amount of negative stimulus due to already depressed levels, we hypothesize that stimuli known to suppress participation will affect the participation among non-authoritarians to a greater degree than among authoritarians. We focus on socioethnic diversity, which is known to relate negatively to political participation. Analyses of individual- and macro-level data from 50 countries across three waves of the World Values Survey support our thesis. Participation levels among authoritarians are largely static regardless of a country’s level of socioethnic heterogeneity, while non-authoritarians participate considerably less in countries with relatively high levels of socioethnic heterogeneity. This suggests that authoritarians participate to a proportionately greater degree in the most diverse countries. We discuss the relevance of our findings to a country’s political climate.

Publication: European Journal of Political Research Volume 54, Issue 3, 2015, Pages 563-581.
      DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12096
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Preference for Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties among Exclusive-Nationalists and Authoritarians

Solo Authorship

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Keywords: Political Psychology, Nationalism, Radical Right-wing Populist Parties, and Authoritarianism

Abstract: The literature on authoritarianism and exclusive forms of nationalism often implies that authoritarian and exclusive-nationalist individuals will prefer radical right-wing populist parties such as Austria's FPÖ. The theoretical case for such implications appears sound as party programs for radical right-wing populist parties invoke rhetoric that should appeal to individuals with either of these characteristics. To date, these implications have not been examined. This paper examines quantitative survey data from 5 West European countries with electorally viable radical right-wing populist parties to determine if radical right-wing populist parties are preferred by authoritarians and/or exclusive-nationalists. Analyses indicate that the radical right-wing populist parties studied here are consistently preferred by exclusive-nationalist individuals, though not necessarily to all other parties, but only inconsistently preferred by authoritarian individuals. While more nuanced investigation is still needed, it is clear that, contrary to the assumptions in the authoritarianism literature, radical right-wing populist parties cannot always rely on authoritarian individuals for support.

Publication: Party Politics Volume 21, Issue 3, 2015, Pages 367-380.
      Article Link: Sage Journals
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Voice, Representation and Trust in Parliament

Solo Authorship


Keywords: Procedural Justice, Political Representation, and Political trust, Left–Right congruence

Abstract: The procedural justice literature argues that providing individuals voice in institutional processes facilitates trust in that institution. For democratic institutions, voice is provided to the citizenry via political representation. In this article, I apply the procedural justice argument to trust in parliament, equating representation with voice: if individuals believe they are represented in parliament, they will trust parliament more than if they believe otherwise. Analyses of data from three of four countries find support for this argument: those individuals who believe that a party with at least one seat in parliament represents their views trust parliament more than those who do not. This relationship holds even when accounting for political self-interest. For those who wish to promote trust in parliament, a suggested normative good with a host of politically important consequences, one potential pathway is to facilitate individuals’ belief that there is a party in parliament that represents them.

Publication: Acta Politica Volume 50, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 171-192.
      DOI: 10.1057/ap.2014.15
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Authoritarianism and Intolerance Under Autocratic and Democratic Regimes

Solo Authorship


Keywords: Autocracy, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Normative Threat, Social Tolerance

Abstract: Based on findings indicating that authoritarians express greater intolerance in situations where diversity is more apparent, Stenner (2005) proposes that democracies may sabotage their stability by allowing the unbridled expression of societal pluralism. She therefore suggests that pluralism in democracies be suppressed in order to pacify authoritarians and the threat their unbridled intolerance may pose to the stability of these countries. Based on data from the World and European Values Surveys, I examined 75,478 individuals across 75 countries to determine if authoritarians are indeed more intolerant in more democratic societies; a key assumption upon which Stenner’s suggestion rests. While authoritarianism was more strongly and negatively related to tolerance in more democratic countries, authoritarians in more democratic countries were more tolerant than were authoritarians in more autocratic countries. I argue that Stenner’s concern may be valid if we strictly consider rapid pluralization within a single generation within consolidating democracies, but for established democracies, her concern appears unwarranted.

Publication: Journal of Social and Political Psychology, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2014, Pages 220-241.
      Article Link: PsychOpen
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Pluralistic conditioning: social tolerance and effective democracy

With: Shane P. Singh

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Keywords: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Social Tolerance, and Political Psychology

Abstract: Modern democracy is based in dissent and diversity. The essential defining aspect of democracy is the existence of competitive and fair elections; an element which emphasizes diversity of opinion and serves to place one party (or group of parties) in power, while relegating the other(s) to dissent. The diversity inherent to democratic systems instills in a country's inhabitants an awareness of difference, which in turn propagates more tolerant individuals. In autocratic regimes, expression of diversity is restrained, being considered the basis of disorder and thereby detrimental to the state. In liberal democratic societies, freedom of expression and speech and a free media are widely accepted principles. Political parties and social groups in liberal democratic societies are therefore able to express varied and opposing opinions on societal concerns, and such opinions are broadcast to large swaths of the population. Exposure to such variety indicates to even the most inattentive of individuals that they reside in a diverse and heterogeneous society. For many individuals, exposure to diversity promotes tolerance of difference. While diversity tends to breed tolerance, there is a critical exception to this generality. Exposure to diversity only facilitates tolerance of difference when such exposure occurs under positive or neutral conditions. Those who are exposed to diversity under aversive conditions are instead pushed toward intolerance of difference. Our thesis in this article is thus one of pluralistic conditioning. In general, when individuals are exposed to diversity under positive or neutral conditions, they become more tolerant of diversity. However, when individuals are exposed to diversity under aversive conditions, they become less tolerant of difference. This thesis unites findings from multiple disciplines under a single theoretical framework.

Publication: Democratization, Volume 21, Issue 1, 2014, Pages 1-28.
      DOI: 10.1080/13510347.2012.697056
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Veto Players, the Policymaking Environment, and the Expression of Authoritarian Attitudes.

With: Shane P. Singh

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Keywords: Social Tolerance, Authoritarianism, Veto Players, and Political Psychology

Abstract: The number of veto players, actors with the ability to halt a change to the status quo, is consistently linked to the fluidity of the policymaking process across countries. Building upon previous work on authoritarianism, we theorize that the nature of the policymaking process, as influenced by the number of veto players, serves to shape attitudes among the public. Specifically, we argue that fractionalization of powerful political actors leads to a conflictual policymaking process, which in turn exacerbates the expression of authoritarian attitudes among those predisposed to such by portraying an image of a heterogeneous and divided society. To test this, we gather data on thousands of individuals and several countries from the World Values Survey and other sources. Results indicate that those with authoritarian predispositions are much more likely to express authoritarian attitudes where the number of veto players is high, where the preferences of these players are diverse, and where the overall capacity for political change is diminished.

Publication: Political Studies, Volume 61, Issue 1, March 2013, Pages 119-141.
      DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00959.x
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Voice and Trust in Parliamentary Representation

Solo Authorship

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Keywords: Trust, Political Representation, Political Psychology, Procedural Justice, Procedural fairness, Electoral Systems and Parliamentary Representation

Abstract: In both social and political matters, individuals trust those they believe will treat them fairly. Individuals in democracies have little objection to abiding by policies instituted by parties they did not vote for because the system by which the parliament is formed is considered fair. However, even among democracies, some electoral systems are fairer than others. It stands to reason that trust in parliament is affected by the perceived fairness of the electoral system. This research demonstrates that actual or perceived provision of voice in parliamentary representation does increase individual trust in parliament. Systems designed with the intent to provide fair representation and those that provide the illusion of fair representation produce higher levels of trust in parliament.

Publication: Electoral Studies, Volume 31, Issue 2, June 2012, Pages 393–405.
      DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2012.01.006
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Full abstracts for publications are here

The Surprising Non-Impact of Radical Right-Wing Populist Party Representation on Public Tolerance of Minorities

With: Shane P. Singh

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Keywords: Political Psychology, Authoritarianism, Social Tolerance, Radical Right-wing Populist Parties, and Mere Exposure effect

Abstract: The presence of radical right-wing populist (RRP) parties presents a challenge to liberal democracies, which are inclined to allow the representation of parties that reject their principles of diversity and inclusiveness. Addressing this concern, we use the World Values Survey and other data sources to demonstrate that the representation of RRP parties in parliament, in fact, has no discernible effect on individual levels of intolerance. The anti-outgroup messages of RRP parties are mitigated by the tolerance-boosting effect of the information diversity present in the multiparty systems that allow for their representation. In addition, even those predisposed to be intolerant of outgroups are unaffected by the representation of such parties, as the attitudes of these individuals are least likely to be shaped by new information. Bans on political parties that espouse intolerance, often considered or implemented by modern democracies, are unlikely to achieve their desired effect.

Publication: Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, Volume 21, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 313-331.
      DOI: 10.1080/17457289.2011.588333
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Full abstracts for publications are here

Left-Right identification and education in Europe: A contingent relationship

Solo Authorship

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Keywords: Political Sociology, Education, Political Ideology, and Core Values thesis

Abstract: In the American research tradition, education has long been argued to push one toward a liberal political ideology. Traditionally, education has been associated with the upper classes of society and thereby with a more right-wing, conservative political ideology. Recent research demonstrates an inconsistent relationship between the ideological leaning of various political attitudes and education. This article reviews current theory on education and ideology and finds three perspectives dominate the literature: self-interest theses, developmental theses and socialization theses. Self-interest theories follow the traditional association of education with the upper classes and thereby with right-wing ideology. Developmental theses argue that education contributes to liberal political attitudes by stimulating cognitive development and expanding an individual's perspective. Socialization theses argue that education contributes to political attitudes by social learning processes. A specific example of a socialization perspective is the core values thesis. This thesis argues that education propagates the transmission of a society's core values. To this thesis, I add that an individual's personality is important in this process. As such I test a three-way interaction which provides support for the modified core values thesis: personality and context interact to influence the ideological leaning of our political attitudes.

Publication: Comparative European Politics, Volume 9, Issue 3, July 2011, Pages 292-316.
      DOI: 10.1057/cep.2010.17 Article Link: IngentaConnect
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Full abstracts for publications are here

My Research Areas

Tolerance - Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties - Political Trust - Political Representation - Political Ideology - Personality - Party Preference - Nationalism - Modernization - Electoral Systems - Authoritarianism

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