Date of Graduation

8-2017

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

Bill Levine

Keywords

Conservatism, Policy Support, Reactance, Reactionary, Reactionism, Social Decline

Abstract

This research investigates a novel construct, reactionism – the belief that the past is good and should be resurrected. Specifically, these studies test two competing hypotheses. It could be that reactionism is purely perceptual, such that perceiving the past as positive will promote reactionary attitudes and behavior. Or reactionism could be motivated, such that perceiving change away from the past as threatening is necessary for reactionary attitudes and behavior. In study 1, I tested whether reactionism beliefs are related to greater support for policies that would resurrect the past. The prediction was unsupported, suggesting that reactionism beliefs are motivated. In study 2, the competing perceptual and motivation hypotheses were directly tested. Given the evidence from Study 1, I predicted that framing the past as positive (vs. negative) and change as threatening (vs. nonthreatening) increases support, and voting for, past policies. The motivation hypothesis was supported. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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