Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)
Second Committee Member
Most research in social and political psychology focuses on the psychological antecedents to conservatism; the primary aim of this work was to investigate antecedents to liberalism. This led to an examination of we-ness and empathy as underlying mechanisms to liberal attitudes. Using perspective taking as a cognitive process common to both we-ness and empathy, I tested a model of we-ness and empathy as serial mediators of the effect of perspective taking on political attitudes. Results suggested that we-ness and empathy serially mediated the association between perspective taking and liberalism (and its social and economic sub-attitudes), and empathy independently mediated the association between perspective taking and liberalism (and its social and economic sub-attitudes; Study 1). Causal evidence for this model was less supportive; directly manipulating perspective taking revealed no causal effect on political attitudes in any regard (Study 2). Distinctions between two forms of we-ness (interpersonal vs. collective) and their relationship to liberalism and conservatism are discussed.
Sparkman, David, "The "We-ness" and Empathy of Liberalism" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 1370.