Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Scott Eidelman

Committee Member

Denise Beike

Second Committee Member

David Schroeder

Abstract

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.

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