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Three studies are conducted to assess the uncertainty- threat model of political conservatism, which posits that psychological needs to manage uncertainty and threat are associated with political orientation. Results from structural equation models provide consistent support for the hypothesis that uncertainty avoidance (e.g., need for order, intolerance of ambiguity, and lack of openness to experience) and threat management (e.g., death anxiety, system threat, and perceptions of a dangerous world) each contributes independently to conservatism (vs. liberalism). No support is obtained for alternative models, which predict that uncertainty and threat management are associated with ideological extremism or extreme forms of conservatism only. Study 3 also reveals that resistance to change fully mediates the association between uncertainty avoidance and conservatism, whereas opposition to equality partially mediates the association between threat and conservatism. Implications for understanding the epistemic and existential bases of political orientation are discussed.
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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DOI: 10.1177/0146167207301028
2007; 33; 989 Pers Soc Psychol Bull
John T. Jost, Jaime L. Napier, Hulda Thorisdottir, Samuel D. Gosling, Tibor P. Palfai and Brian Ostafin
Extremity?
Are Needs to Manage Uncertainty and Threat Associated With Political Conservatism or Ideological
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989
Are Needs to Manage Uncertainty and
Threat Associated With Political
Conservatism or Ideological Extremity?
John T. Jost
Jaime L. Napier
Hulda Thorisdottir
New York University
Samuel D. Gosling
University of Texas at Austin
Tibor P. Palfai
Brian Ostafin
Boston University
husband with a caption that read, “Does this dress make
me look Republican?” (Diffee, 2004). This joke trades
on the pervasive belief that social and political attitudes
are often reflected in personal styles and preferences that
are, on the face of it, devoid of political content. The
notion that general characterological differences in the
thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are
linked to their political leanings has intrigued several
generations of psychologists (see also Carney, Jost, &
Gosling, 2006). Silvan Tomkins (1965), for instance,
wrote that “if we know a person’s general emotional
posture, I believe we can predict what ideologies he
would choose if he were exposed to them—and whether
they will be toward the left pole or the right” (p. 27).
There is, in fact, a good deal of evidence suggesting
that individual differences in personality, cognitive
style, and motivational needs covary with political ori-
entation (e.g., see Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway,
2003a, 2003b). For example, those who gravitate
toward conservative or right-wing ideologies are, in
Authors’ Note: Correspondence should be sent to John T. Jost,
Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place,
Room 578, New York, NY 10003-6634; e-mail: john.jost@nyu.edu.
PSPB, Vol. 33 No. 7, July 2007 989-1007
DOI: 10.1177/0146167207301028
© 2007 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
Three studies are conducted to assess the uncertainty–
threat model of political conservatism, which posits that
psychological needs to manage uncertainty and threat are
associated with political orientation. Results from struc-
tural equation models provide consistent support for
the hypothesis that uncertainty avoidance (e.g., need for
order, intolerance of ambiguity, and lack of openness to
experience) and threat management (e.g., death anxiety,
system threat, and perceptions of a dangerous world)
each contributes independently to conservatism (vs. liber-
alism). No support is obtained for alternative models,
which predict that uncertainty and threat management
are associated with ideological extremism or extreme
forms of conservatism only. Study 3 also reveals that resis-
tance to change fully mediates the association between
uncertainty avoidance and conservatism, whereas opposi-
tion to equality partially mediates the association between
threat and conservatism. Implications for understanding
the epistemic and existential bases of political orientation
are discussed.
Keywords: uncertainty; threat; ideology; liberalism; conser-
vatism; political orientation
A
few years ago, The New Yorker ran a cartoon
depicting a woman modeling a dress for her
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general, less tolerant of ambiguity (e.g., Adorno,
Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford, 1950; Frenkel-
Brunswik, 1954), and they tend to exhibit higher per-
sonal needs for order, structure, and closure (Altemeyer,
1998; Chirumbolo, 2002; Kemmelmeier, 1997; Webster
& Kruglanski, 1994) as compared with those who grav-
itate toward liberal or left-wing ideologies. Further-
more, conservatives tend to perceive the world as more
dangerous and threatening, on average, than do liberals
(Altemeyer, 1998; Duckitt, 2001).
An uncertainty–threat model of conservatism has been
proposed by Jost et al. (2003a, 2003b) to integrate these
myriad findings from diverse research programs to
develop a parsimonious model of epistemic and existen-
tial needs that underlie ideological outcomes. Specifically,
the theoretical model holds that “several specific motives
relating to the management of fear and uncertainty are
associated with the ideology of political conservatism”
(Jost et al., 2003a, p. 366). In the remainder of this arti-
cle, we first review the basic tenets of this model as well
as several limitations and criticisms of previous research
used to support it. Then, in three studies, we use struc-
tural equation methods to compare the uncertainty–
threat model of political conservatism to alternative
models positing that heightened needs to reduce uncer-
tainty and threat should be associated with ideological
extremity rather than conservatism per se.
THE UNCERTAINTY–THREAT MODEL
OF POLITICAL CONSERVATISM
According to Jost et al. (2003a, 2003b), political
conservatism is an ideological belief system that consists
of two core components, resistance to change and
opposition to equality, which reduce uncertainty and
threat. The idea is that there is an especially good fit
between needs to reduce uncertainty and threat, on the
one hand, and resistance to change and acceptance of
inequality, on the other, insofar as preserving the status
quo allows one to maintain what is familiar and known
while rejecting the risky, uncertain prospect of social
change. The broader argument is that ideological differ-
ences between right and left have psychological roots:
Stability and hierarchy generally provide reassurance
and structure, whereas change and equality imply
greater chaos and unpredictability. Even for people who
are relatively disadvantaged by the status quo, the
“devil” they know often seems preferable—in terms of
satisfying basic epistemic and existential needs—to the
devil they do not know (see also Jost, 2006; Jost &
Hunyady, 2005). Thus, the uncertainty–threat model sug-
gests that the appeal of politically conservative opinions
and leaders is strengthened when psychological needs to
reduce uncertainty and threat are relatively high, and
the appeal of liberal opinions and leaders is strength-
ened when these needs are relatively low. Both tem-
porary, situational factors and chronic, dispositional
tendencies pertaining to the avoidance of uncertainty
and the management of threat are therefore hypothe-
sized to affect ideological preferences.
To assess the uncertainty–threat model, Jost et al.
(2003a) conducted a meta-analytic review of the cognitive-
motivational antecedents of liberalism–conservatism. They
found that several dispositional and situational variables
presumably associated with the management of uncer-
tainty and threat did indeed predict various manifestations
of political conservatism (including right-wing authoritari-
anism, social dominance orientation, and economic system
justification). The original studies were conducted in 12
countries between 1958 and 2002 and employed 88
research samples involving 22,818 individual cases.
Results revealed that the tendency to endorse conservative
(rather than liberal or moderate) opinions was positively
associated with uncertainty avoidance; intolerance of
ambiguity; and needs for order, structure, and closure, and
it was negatively associated with openness to experience.
Conservatism was also positively associated with threat
variables such as mortality salience (or death anxiety), sys-
tem instability, and fear of threat and loss.
Uncertainty Avoidance
Although evidence suggests that everyone is motivated
to resolve uncertainty (Gao & Gudykunst, 1990; Kagan,
1972), people vary in the extent to which uncertainty
is experienced as aversive and in the manner in which
they choose to resolve uncertainty (Kruglanski, 2004;
Sorrentino & Short, 1986; Wilson, 1973). Psychologists
have identified several individual difference variables that
capture different orientations toward certainty and
uncertainty. For example, the personality factor of open-
ness to experience is associated with intellectual curiosity,
creativity, and flexibility (Costa & McCrae, 1992), and it
is negatively correlated with uncertainty avoidance
(Hodson & Sorrentino, 1999). In their meta-analytic
review, Jost et al. (2003a) found that the weighted mean
effect size for the relationship between openness to expe-
rience and political conservatism, aggregating across 21
tests of the hypothesis, was negative (Cohen’s d = –0.68)
and significant.
It has long been noted that individual differences in
the tolerance for ambiguity are associated with
left–right ideological differences. Even before Adorno et
al.’s (1950) theory of the authoritarian personality
appeared, Frenkel-Brunswik (1949, 1954) identified the
intolerance of ambiguity as a personality characteristic
of political conservatives. Budner (1962), too, found
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that ambiguity intolerance was associated with several
conservative values and opinions, including belief in
God, conventionalism, and support for censorship.
Research by Rokeach (1960) also demonstrated an
association between dogmatic thinking styles and polit-
ical conservatism. Jost et al. (2003a) found that the
weighted mean effect size for the relationship between
dogmatism/intolerance of ambiguity and political con-
servatism, aggregating across 20 tests of the hypothesis,
was positive (d = 0.73) and significant.
Work summarized by Kruglanski (2004) addresses yet
another related individual difference variable that is asso-
ciated with epistemic motivation to reduce uncertainty,
namely, the need for cognitive closure. Kruglanski referred
to individual (as well as situational) differences in a
person’s “desire for a firm answer to a question, any firm
answer as compared to confusion and/or ambiguity”
(p. 6). Webster and Kruglanski (1994) developed a multi-
faceted scale that includes measures of closed-mindedness,
decisiveness, and needs for order and predictability. There
is evidence that scores on the need for closure scale—as
well as scores on related instruments such as the personal
need for structure scale—covary with political orientation.
Jost et al. (2003a) found that the weighted mean effect size
for the relationship between needs for order, structure,
and closure and political conservatism, aggregating across
20 tests, was positive and significant (d = 0.54).
Threat Management
According to a well-known adage, “a conservative is a
liberal who’s been mugged.” While we know of no evi-
dence demonstrating that conservatives are dispropor-
tionately victims of violent crime, research does show
that conservatives tend to score more highly than liberals
on the “perception of a dangerous world” scale
(Altemeyer, 1998; Duckitt, 2001). Furthermore, archival
research suggests that the appeal of right-wing conser-
vatism is enhanced during periods of high social, eco-
nomic, and political threat (Doty, Peterson, & Winter,
1991; McCann, 1997; Sales, 1973; Willer, 2004). Jost et
al. (2003a) found that fear of threat and loss (d = 0.38,
aggregating across 22 tests) and system instability and
threat (d = 1.08, aggregating across 9 tests) were both sig-
nificant predictors of political conservatism.
Another existential motive that is apparently associ-
ated with political orientation is death anxiety. For
example, Jost et al. (2003a) found that the weighted
mean effect size for the relationship between death anx-
iety and political conservatism was significantly positive
(d = 1.20) in eight studies, seven of which involved an
experimental manipulation of mortality salience. More
recent studies have also demonstrated that mortality
salience tends to increase support for conservative
President George W. Bush, even among relatively liberal
college students (Cohen, Ogilvie, Solomon, Greenberg
& Pyszczynski, 2005; Cohen, Solomon, Maxfield,
Pyszczynski, & Greenberg, 2004; Jost, Fitzsimons, &
Kay, 2004; Landau et al., 2004).
According to the uncertainty–threat model proposed
by Jost et al. (2003a), uncertainty avoidance and threat
management are independent but related motivational
clusters. Each of these clusters, as we have suggested,
can be measured in multiple ways. They are hypothe-
sized to make distinctive contributions to political
orientation, so that increases in dispositional (or situa-
tional) needs to either reduce uncertainty or manage
threat (or both) should be associated with increased
attraction to conservative ideology (and decreased
attraction to liberal ideology). A key prediction of Jost
et al.’s model is that these levels of epistemic and exis-
tential motivation should be associated with political
conservatism in particular and not ideological extremity
in general (see Jost et al., 2003b).
ADDRESSING CRITISIMS, LIMITATIONS,
AND UNRESOLVED ISSUES
Although the meta-analytic review by Jost et al.
(2003a) provides the most comprehensive review of
research on the cognitive–motivational underpinnings
of political orientation, there are clearly some limita-
tions to what can be gleaned by relying exclusively on
secondary analyses of the published research literature.
In the current studies we sought to overcome these lim-
itations to address four unresolved questions of theoret-
ical and practical significance.
Do Uncertainty and Threat Management
Independently Contribute to Political Orientation?
First, because most of the studies summarized in the
Jost et al. (2003a) meta-analysis included either a measure
of uncertainty avoidance or threat management but not
both, it was impossible to investigate directly the notion
that these form two distinct motivational clusters or that
each contributes independently to political orientation.
Thus, the theoretical assumption that separate epistemic
and existential motives affect ideological preferences has
not yet been explicitly tested. This issue is particularly
important because it bears on an ongoing debate about
whether death anxiety is a “special” form of threat, as ter-
ror management theorists suggest (Pyszczynski, Greenberg,
& Solomon, 2005), or whether it is one of several similar
types of threat (e.g., the threat of uncertainty), as others
suggest (e.g., Navarrete, Kurzban, Fessler, & Kirkpatrick,
2004; van den Bos, Poortvliet, Maas, Miedema, & van
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den Ham, 2005). We hypothesize that needs to reduce
uncertainty and threat are indeed distinct motivations but
that death anxiety exerts effects that are comparable to
those caused by other forms of threat (e.g., perceptions of
a dangerous world and system threat). We investigated
these possibilities in the current research with the use of
confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation mod-
eling with latent variables.
Do Uncertainty and Threat Management Predict
Conservatism or Ideological Extremity?
A second limitation of the Jost et al. (2003a) meta-
analysis is that the authors were not always able to test
directly the uncertainty–threat model against competing
theories of political ideology. For example, Greenberg
and Jonas (2003) proposed that needs to manage uncer-
tainty and threat should be best served by clinging to any
extreme ideology, whether left wing or right wing. Thus,
they predicted that needs to avoid uncertainty and threat
would be higher at both (extreme) ends of the political
spectrum, in comparison with the center. Thirteen of the
studies included in Jost et al.’s (2003a) meta-analysis
reported the data in sufficient detail to allow for a direct
comparison of the (linear) hypothesis derived from the
uncertainty–threat model and the (quadratic) extremity
hypothesis. Jost et al. (2003b) found that data from seven
of these studies exhibited a linear relationship between
conservatism and uncertainty/threat avoidance, and data
from the other six studies appeared to show both qua-
dratic and linear effects (i.e., offering support for both
hypotheses). However, because Jost et al. (2003b) were
dependent on how researchers originally collected and
reported the data that were included in the meta-analysis,
they were unable to directly pit the two hypotheses
against each other for most of the studies they reviewed
and for many of the individual variables pertaining to
epistemic and existential motivation. In the current
research we were able to estimate the effects of uncertainty
avoidance and threat management on liberalism–
conservatism while adjusting for ideological extremity
(and vice versa).
Do Uncertainty and Threat Management Predict
“Mainstream” Conservatism?
Crowson, Thoma, and Hestevold (2005) criticized the
uncertainty–threat model of conservatism for failing to
distinguish clearly between the psychological antecedents
of right-wing authoritarianism and those of “main-
stream” conservatism. They suggested that uncertainty
avoidance and threat management would be associated with
extreme forms of conservatism such as right-wing authori-
tarianism but not with moderate levels of conservatism.
In the current research we assessed political orientation
with the use of a single ideological self-placement item
that has been shown by political scientists to capture
political preferences adequately, albeit imperfectly (e.g.,
Fuchs & Klingemann, 1990; Knight, 1999; see also Jost,
2006), rather than with the use of scales such as the right-
wing authoritarianism scale (Altemeyer, 1998). By
obtaining continuous measures of self-reported liberal-
ism–conservatism in different geographical regions, we
were able to examine a fairly broad range of mainstream
political attitudes.
Do Individual Differences in Death Anxiety
Predict Political Orientation?
A fourth and final point to be addressed is the rela-
tionship between death anxiety and political ideology.
There is some ambiguity in the research literature about
whether mortality salience (which presumably increases
death anxiety) tends to make people more conservative
(e.g., Cohen et al., 2005; Cohen et al., 2004; Jost et al.,
2004; Landau et al., 2004) or more extreme in either
liberal or conservative directions (e.g., Greenberg &
Jonas, 2003). One way of directly investigating the pos-
sibility that there is a better “match” between needs to
reduce death anxiety and conservative (as opposed to
liberal) attitudes, as suggested by the uncertainty–threat
model, is to consider individual differences in death
anxiety. However, only one prior study to our knowl-
edge has explored the relationship between fear of death
and political orientation (see Jost et al., 2003a, pp. 364-
365). In Studies 1 and 2, we were able to estimate the
strength of the relationship between death anxiety
(measured as an individual difference variable) and lib-
eralism–conservatism to shed some light on this ques-
tion. Although this method is useful for understanding
the extent to which consciously accessible fears of death
are associated with ideological preferences, it does not
constitute a critical test of terror management theory
per se, insofar as terror management processes are
largely assumed to operate unconsciously (Pyszczynski,
Greenberg, & Solomon, 1999).
OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH
In three studies we assessed the uncertainty–threat
model of political conservatism, which posits that psy-
chological needs to manage uncertainty and threat are
associated with political orientation, even after adjust-
ing for ideological extremity in general. Part of our the-
oretical argument, which is consistent with the results of
the Jost et al. (2003a, 2003b) meta-analysis, is that
there are “families” (or clusters) of interrelated (yet dis-
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tinguishable) epistemic and existential motives that con-
tribute to political orientation. Thus, we are interested
in latent, underlying constructs pertaining to the psy-
chological management of uncertainty and threat, and
this informed our choice of statistical procedures. In this
research program, we focused on the similarities (rather
than differences) among variables such as the need for
closure, openness to experience, and ambiguity intoler-
ance, as well as the similarities among variables such as
death anxiety, system threat, and perceptions of a dan-
gerous world. By varying the ways in which we mea-
sured uncertainty and threat management variables
across the three studies, we were able to assess conver-
gent validity across operations and to investigate the
possibility that these families of epistemic and existen-
tial variables would exert similar (rather than different)
effects on political orientation.
STUDY 1
In our first study, we measured individual differences in
uncertainty and threat management and examined their
associations with political orientation and ideological
extremity. Uncertainty orientation was operationalized in
terms of the need for order and openness to new experi-
ences. Threat was operationalized in terms of death anxi-
ety and perceptions of terrorism. It was hypothesized that
each of these motivational clusters would contribute inde-
pendently to political orientation, even after adjusting for
political extremism, but they would not predict extremism
after adjusting for political orientation. We used structural
equation modeling with first- and second-order latent vari-
ables to investigate these predictions.
Method
Participants. One hundred and sixty-one (65.5%
female) undergraduate students in an introductory
psychology course at a large public university in Texas
voluntarily participated in this study. Ages ranged from
17 to 35, with a mean age of 18.42 (SD = 1.53).
Instruments and procedure. Participants completed
measures of uncertainty avoidance, threat management,
and ideological self-placement. Throughout the semes-
ter, participants completed questionnaires in mass-
testing sessions and received personalized feedback in
exchange for participation. Questionnaires included the
NEO Personality Inventory–Revised (NEO PI-R)
(administered online); a 240-item personality instru-
ment that measures Big Five personality traits, each of
which possesses six facets (Costa & McCrae, 1992);
selected items from a Death Anxiety scale (Wong,
Reker, & Gesser, 1994); one item gauging perceptions
of system threat; and a single ideological self-placement
item (e.g., see Jost, 2006).
Because Kenny (1979) recommended selecting three
to five indicators per latent variable, uncertainty avoid-
ance was measured using three items taken from the
need-for-order facet of the Conscientiousness factor
(α=.85) and three items taken from each of the six
facets of the Openness factor (ideas, values, feelings,
fantasy, aesthetics, and activity: αs = .79, .64, .70, .79,
.81, and .51, respectively) of the NEO PI-R (Costa,
McCrae, & Dye, 1991). Sample items include “I prefer
to spend my time in familiar surroundings” and “I often
enjoy playing with theories or abstract ideas.”
Threat was measured with the use of five items selected
from Wong et al.’s (1994) Death Anxiety scale and one
item tapping perceptions of system threat. Items from the
first scale are as follows: “I avoid death thoughts at all
costs”; “Whenever the thought of death enters my mind,
I try to push it away”; “I have an intense fear of death”;
“I avoid thinking about death altogether”; and “I try to
have nothing to do with the subject of death” (α=.90).
An additional item assessed participants’ perceptions of
system threat: “Our way of life is seriously threatened by
the forces of terrorism in the world.”
1
In addition, participants were asked to locate them-
selves on a 9-point scale of political orientation ranging
from 1 (extremely liberal) to 9 (extremely conservative).
The mean political orientation score for the sample was
4.95 (SD = 2.23). Eight participants chose the extreme lib-
eral endpoint (1) and 10 participants chose the extreme
conservative endpoint (9). To construct a measure of ide-
ological extremism, we subtracted 5 (the scale midpoint)
from the original political orientation score and took the
absolute value of the result. Thus, participants who chose
1 (extremely liberal) or 9 (extremely conservative) received
an extremism score of 4, and participants who chose the
scale midpoint received a score of 0.
Results
Data preparation. None of the variables described
previously exceeded the recommended limits for uni-
variate normality. The absolute values of all skew
indices were less than 1.7, and those of all kurtosis
indices were less than 2.3 (see Kline, 2005; Yuan,
Bentler, & Zhang, 2005).
We therefore constructed second-order latent vari-
ables to estimate individuals’ scores on both uncertainty
and threat orientations. To estimate uncertainty orien-
tation, we first conducted a nonrotated principle com-
ponent exploratory factor analysis and selected the two
pro-trait items and one con-trait item that loaded most
strongly on the primary factor for each of the seven
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measures (i.e., need for order plus the six openness
facets). We then used these items as indicators of seven
corresponding first-order latent variables and estimated
uncertainty avoidance as a second-order latent con-
struct.
To estimate threat orientation, two first-order latent
variables were created, namely, death anxiety and sys-
tem threat. Death anxiety was estimated using the five
items described previously as indicators. Because there
was only one indicator for system threat (which could
result in an unidentified model), the error variance of
the system threat latent variable was set to .8 (20% of
the variance of the indicator; see Kline, 2005). The vari-
ances, covariances, and correlations among the first-
order latent variables are listed in Table 1.
2
To set the
scale of second-order variables, their variances were
set to 1.
Model specification. We used individual-level esti-
mates of uncertainty and threat orientation to predict
both political orientation and ideological extremity in a
series of hybrid structural equation models. In the first
of four models we used uncertainty and threat orienta-
tion to predict political orientation, and in the second
model we adjusted for ideological extremism. In the
third model we used uncertainty and threat orientation
to predict ideological extremism, and in the fourth
model we adjusted for political orientation.
Age (centered at the sample mean) and sex (effect
coded so that female = –1 and male = 1) were included as
adjustment variables on the dependent measures in all of
the models for all three studies. Analyses were conducted
using EQS v6.1 (Bentler & Wu, 1995). Models were
covariance analyses using robust maximum likelihood
estimations. Missing data were handled with maximum
likelihood estimators, and parameter estimates for the
standard errors were based on the inverse of Fisher infor-
mation matrix (Jamshidian & Bentler, 1999).
To analyze the adequacy of the models, several fit
indices are reported. To determine whether uncertainty
and threat management represent distinct motivational
clusters, we compared nested models based on differences
between likelihood ratio chi-squares (or model chi-squares,
χ
2
M
). We considered several fit statistics in our evaluations
of structural models, including the robust comparative fit
index (CFI), the root mean square error of approximation
(RMSEA), the Bentler–Bonett non-normed fit index
(NNFI). We also report the Satorra and Bentler (1994)
adjusted chi-square statistic (χ
2
; see also Curran, West, &
Finch, 1996). Minimum acceptable values for the CFI and
NNFI are considered to be approximately .95, and an
acceptable maximum value for the RMSEA index is
approximately .05 (Hu & Bentler, 1999).
Uncertainty and threat management as distinct moti-
vational clusters. To determine whether uncertainty
994 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
TABLE 1: Covariances, Variances, and Correlations of Latent Variables (Study 1)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
1. Need for order .81 –.14** –.26** –.09* –.12* –.29** –.29** –.00 .15 .53** .18** –.06 .04
2. Openness to
ideas –.27** .31 .26** .05+ .14** .38** .21** –.27** –.03 –.31** .07 –.07+ .17**
3. Openness to
values –.31** .49** .90 .07 .14* .40** .35** –.25* –.79** –1.56** .07 –.14 .04
4. Openness to
feelings –.15* .14+ .11 .45 .20** .31** –.02 –.22** –.03 –.21* .11+ –.02 –.20**
5. Openness to
fantasy –.18* .31** .19* .39** .61 .34** .04 .12 .05 .00 .00 .03 .01
6. Openness to
aesthetics –.26** .56** .35** .38** .36** 1.46 .38** –.22 –.11 –.69** .11 .06 .15*
7. Openness to
activity –.36** .42** .41** –.03 .05 .35** .80 –.21+ –.21 –.82** .00 .07 –.12+
8. Death anxiety .00 –.26** –.14* .17** .08 –.10 –.13+ 3.48 1.50** .87** .37 1.35+ –.15
9. System threat .09 –.03 –.44** –.02 .04 –.05 –.13 .42** 4.42 1.47** .16 –.66+ .17
10. Political
conservatism .26** –.24** –.72** –.14* .00 –.25** –.40** .20** .34** 5.25 .12 .09 .15
11. Ideological
extremism .15** .10 .06 .13+ .00 .07 .00 .15 .06 .04 1.69 –.64+ .12+
12. Age –.05 –.08+ –.10 –.02 .03 –.13* .05 –.47+ –.23+ .03 –.32+ 2.35 –.06
13. Sex .05 .31** .04 –.31** .02 .03 .14+ –.09 .09 .07 .09+ –.04 .91
NOTE: Covariances are reported in the top triangle, variances are reported in italics on the diagonal, and correlations are reported in the bot-
tom triangle.
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.
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and threat management should be considered separate
motivational clusters, we compared a measurement
model in which all nine independent variables loaded
onto one higher order factor to the two-factor model
illustrated in Figure 1. Results indicated that the fit of
the one-factor model was acceptable, χ
2
/df =
636.73/420, NNFI = 1.005, CFI = 1.0, RMSEA = .049.
However, the fit of the two-factor model, χ
2
/df =
610.68/415, NNFI = 1.011, CFI = 1.0, RMSEA = .047,
was significantly better, with a likelihood-ratio chi-
square difference of χ
2
M
(5) = 27.46, p < .001. This sug-
gests that uncertainty and threat management are
indeed distinctive, albeit related, motives.
Uncertainty and threat management as independent pre-
dictors of political orientation. The structural models we
used to assess our hypotheses are shown in Figure 2.
3
In
Model 1, we see that uncertainty avoidance is positively and
significantly related to political conservatism, b = .93 (β=.41),
p < .01, as is threat, b = .90 (β=.40), p < .01. Model 2
demonstrates that these results hold after adjusting for the
(nonsignificant) effects of ideological extremism, b = .13
(β=.08), ns. These two models clearly support the hypothesis
that uncertainty and threat management are each associ-
ated with conservative rather than liberal political leanings;
these results are not attributable to a handful of extreme
conservatives. Furthermore, we see in Model 3 that there is
no reliable association between either uncertainty avoid-
ance, b = –.10 (β=–.08), ns, or threat, b = .07 (β=.05), ns,
and ideological extremism as an outcome variable. Model
4 shows that adjusting for the effects of political orienta-
tion, b = .06 (β=.11), ns, does not alter the overall pattern
illustrated in Model 3 (see Figure 2).
Discussion
The results of our first study lend support to the
uncertainty–threat model of political conservatism and
contradict rival hypotheses that uncertainty avoidance
and threat would be associated only with ideologically
extreme viewpoints (e.g., Crowson et al., 2005;
Greenberg & Jonas, 2003). Our measures of epistemic
Jost et al. / UNCERTAINTY—THREAT MODEL 995
.90
.68(.07)
∗∗
.70
.50(.08)
∗∗
.83
Feeling
.69
.71
.78
.70
.69
.68(.07)
∗∗
.39(.07)
∗∗
.39(.07)
∗∗
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.90
Activity
Ideas
Need
for
Order
Ideological
Extremism
System
Threat
1.19(.12)
∗∗
.41(.05)
∗∗
.41(.05)
∗∗
Values
Fantasy
.10(.09)
.29(.10)
∗∗
.89(.19)
∗∗
.24(.15)
.29(.10)
∗∗
Political
Conservatism
Threat
1.21(.15)
∗∗
1.28(.15)
∗∗
Death
Anxiety
Aesthetics
Figure 1 Two-factor measurement model from Study 1 (N
=
161).
NOTE: Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses. Fit indices: χ
2
(415) = 610.67, non-normed fit index =
1.01, comparative fit index = 1.00, root mean square error of approximation = .047.
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and existential motivation accounted for 38% of the sta-
tistical variance in participants’ self-reported liberalism–
conservatism. Nevertheless, there are some features of
this study that leave some results open to multiple inter-
pretations. First, it is possible that the superior fit of the
two-factor model over the one-factor model was due to
measurement error insofar as the uncertainty avoidance
variables (i.e., need for order and openness to experi-
ence) were part of the same personality questionnaire
and were taken online, whereas the remaining variables
were administered in paper-and-pencil fashion. Second,
the data from Study 1 were collected in Texas immedi-
ately before the presidential election of 2004. Although
political orientation was normally distributed in this
sample, it is conceivable that—because Texas is a “red”
state and was the home of the Republican presidential
incumbent, George W. Bush—heightened needs to
reduce uncertainty and threat could have led people to
cling to culturally prevalent norms and values (e.g.,
Greenberg & Jonas, 2003). In Study 2, we administered
additional measures of uncertainty and threat orienta-
tion and gauged political orientation in the context of a
predominantly liberal or “blue” state.
STUDY 2
In Study 2 we examined the uncertainty–threat model
in the context of a predominantly liberal environment. To
increase the generalizability of our conclusions we used
slightly different measures of epistemic and existential
motivation. We hypothesized that once again uncertainty
and threat avoidance would be associated with political
conservatism but not with ideological extremism.
Method
Participants. One hundred and eight (61.1% female)
undergraduate volunteers from an introductory to psychology
course at a large private university in Massachusetts elected
to participate in a study of social attitudes in exchange for
course credit. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 22, with
a mean age of 18.92 (SD = 1.02).
Instruments and procedure. Participants completed
measures of uncertainty avoidance, threat management,
and ideological self-placement. Questionnaires were
administered in a classroom setting; students participated
996 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
Uncertainty
Avoidance
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Uncertainty
Avoidance
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
Model 2,
Model 2,
R
2
2
= .38
= .38
Model 4,
Model 4,
R
2
2
= .12
= .12
Model 3,
Model 3,
R
2
2
= .12
= .12
Model 1,
Model 1,
R
2
2
= .38
= .38
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.10(.10), ns
.07(.15), ns
Threat
Ideological
Extremi sm
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.01(.16) ,
ns
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
.90(.28)
∗∗
.93(.15)
∗∗
.94(.15)
∗∗
.89(.23)
∗∗
.13(.10), ns
Political
Conservatism
.06(.05), ns
.16(.10), ns
Figure 2 Results from Study 1 (N = 161).
NOTE: Only the structural paths are shown. Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses.
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in groups ranging in size from 5 to 15. Uncertainty avoid-
ance was measured using 10 items from the Need for
Cognitive Closure scale (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994).
Four of these items came from the Need for Order and
Predictability subscales (α=.80), three came from the
Decisiveness subscale (α=.78), and three came from the
Closed-Mindedness scale (α=.51). Sample items include:
“I find that establishing a consistent routine enables me
to enjoy life more”; “I don’t like going into a situation
without knowing what I can expect from it”; “I would
describe myself as indecisive” (reverse scored); and
“When considering most conflict situations, I can usually
see how both sides could be right” (reverse scored).
Threat management was measured using Wong et al.’s
(1994) multidimensional Death Anxiety scale, with three
items taken from the Death Fear subscale (“The prospect
of my own death arouses anxiety in me”; “Death is no
doubt a grim experience”; “I have an intense fear of
death”; α=.80) and three items from the Death
Avoidance subscale (“I avoid death thoughts at all costs”;
“I always try not to think about death”; “I try to have
nothing to do with the subject of death”; and α=.88).
Political orientation was measured on a scale ranging
from –5 (extremely liberal) to 5 (extremely conserva-
tive). The sample mean was –.97 (SD = 2.13).
Ideological extremity was again estimated by taking the
absolute value of the difference from the scale midpoint
for each participant.
Results
Data preparation and model specification. Although
the need for cognitive closure measure is composed of
five subscales (Order, Predictability, Decisiveness,
Closed-Mindedness, and Discomfort With Ambiguity),
an exploratory factor analysis of our data yielded a
three-factor solution (Need for Order and Predictability,
Decisiveness, and Closed-Mindedness) that was consis-
tent with previous research (e.g., Kossowska, Van Hiel,
Chun, & Kruglanski, 2002; Kruglanski et al., 1997;
Mannetti, Pierro, Kruglanski, Taris, & Bezinovic, 2002;
Neuberg, Judice, & West, 1997; Neuberg, West, Judice,
& Thompson, 1997; Van Hiel, Pandelaere, & Duriez,
2004). Thus, to estimate uncertainty avoidance, we cre-
ated three latent variables based on these factors, using
four items from the Preference for Order and Predict-
ability factor, three items from the Decisiveness factor,
and three items from the Closed-Mindedness factor,
with two pro-trait items and one con-trait item per fac-
tor. Threat management was estimated with two first-
order latent variables, namely, death fear and death
avoidance, with the items described previously used as
indicators. Table 2 lists the covariances, variances, and
correlations of these first-order latent variables. Details
of the analyses for this study are the same as in Study 1.
Uncertainty and threat management as distinct moti-
vational clusters. To assess the hypothesis that uncer-
tainty and threat management are distinguishable
motivations, we compared the fit of a measurement
model that consisted of all five independent variables
loaded onto one second-order latent variable to a mea-
surement model with two second-order latent variables,
as illustrated in Figure 3. The fit of the one-factor model
was barely acceptable, χ
2
/df = 214.87/160, NNFI =
.894, CFI = .911, RMSEA = .057. The fit of the two-
factor model, χ
2
/df = 183.29/155, NNFI = .945, CFI =
.955, RMSEA = .041, was again significantly better,
∆χ
2
M
(5) = 36.16, p < .001 (see Figure 3).
4
These results
again support the notion that death anxiety is a form
of threat that is distinguishable from uncertainty
avoidance.
Jost et al. / UNCERTAINTY—THREAT MODEL 997
TABLE 2: Variances, Covariances, and Correlations of Latent Variables (Study 2)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1. Need for order 1.20** .15+ .06 .12 .31 .61* –.75* .01 –.22*
2. Closed-mindedness .55+ .06 .02 .05 .05 .24+ –.27+ –.02 –.07
3. Decisiveness .06 .07 .95** –.10 –.35 .05 –.11 .12 .24*
4. Death fear .08 .17 –.08 1.74** 2.05** .66* .13 –.22 –.10
5. Death avoidance .14 .11 –.18 .79** 3.91** 1.15* –.66 –.17 –.24
6. Political conservatism .26* .45+ .02 .24* .27** 4.51** –2.45** –.11 –.04
7. Ideological extremism –.25* –.40+ –.04 .04 –.12 –.42** 7.70** .02 .43+
8. Age .01 –.06 .13 –.16 –.09 –.05 .01 1.04** .03
9. Sex –.21* –.28 .25* –.08 –.12 –.02 .16+ .03 .95**
NOTE: Covariances are reported in the top triangle, variances are reported in italics on the diagonal, and correlations are reported in the bot-
tom triangle.
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.
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Uncertainty and threat management as independent
predictors of political orientation. The structural models
we used to test our hypotheses are illustrated in Figure 4.
As shown in Model 1, we again found that uncertainty
avoidance, b = 1.00 (β=.47), p < .01, and threat, b = .48
(β=.23), p < .05, were each significant predictors of
political conservatism. In Model 2, we adjusted for the
absolute values of participants’ political orientation
scores to ensure that these findings were not driven by
ideological extremists. Political conservatism and ideo-
logical extremism were negatively related, b = –.54 (β=
–.32), p < .01, confirming that the sample was predomi-
nantly liberal. Even after adjusting for ideological
extremism, both uncertainty avoidance, b = .69 (β=.33),
p < .01, and threat, b = .51 (β=.24), p < .01, remained
significant predictors of political conservatism. In Model
3, we see that although threat was unrelated to ideologi-
cal extremity, b = .05 (β=.04), ns, there was a fairly
strong negative relationship between uncertainty avoid-
ance and ideological extremism, b = –.57 (β=–.45), p <
.01. Thus, heightened needs to reduce uncertainty were
not associated with more extreme political attitudes, as
suggested by Greenberg and Jonas (2003). Rather, they
were associated with less extreme (i.e., centrist, moder-
ate) views. After adjusting for political orientation, the
overall pattern remained the same, but the negative effect
998 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
.66(.13)
∗∗
.81
.22(.12)+
.03(.15)
.36
Closed-
Mindedness
1
.21
.59
1.59(.31)
∗∗
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.98(.23)
∗∗
.17(.14)
Political
Conservatism
Decisiveness
Order
and
Predict
Ideological
Extremism
Threat
Death
Fear
Death
Avoidance
1.24(.27)
∗∗
.04(.14)
–.55(.18)
∗∗
.62(.24)
1.27(.27)
∗∗
Figure 3 Two-factor measurement model from Study 2 (N
=
108).
NOTE: Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses. Fit indices: χ
2
/df = 183.29/155, non-normed fit index
= .945, comparative fit index = .955, root mean square error of appoximation = .041.
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of uncertainty avoidance on ideological extremism
dropped to marginal significance (see Model 4). These
results again support the Jost et al. (2003a, 2003b)
model, which holds that needs to reduce uncertainty and
threat are consistently associated with political conser-
vatism rather than ideological extremism.
Discussion
In Study 2, we obtained further support for the
uncertainty–threat model of political conservatism.
Once again, uncertainty and threat management
were each significantly associated with conservatism,
together accounting for 28% of the statistical variance
in political orientation. Death anxiety was again posi-
tively associated with conservatism, but it was unrelated
to ideological extremism. The data from Study 2 suggest
that uncertainty tolerance (rather than avoidance) may
be associated with ideological extremity (and especially
left-wing extremity). This evidence is consistent with
Sidanius’s (1988) observation that holding extreme
views requires some degree of cognitive sophistication
and complexity.
STUDY 3
In our first two studies we found that variables per-
taining to the management of uncertainty (need for order,
openness to experience, closed-mindedness) and threat
(death anxiety, system threat) each contributed signifi-
cantly and independently to individuals’ political orienta-
tion scores. These findings provide clear support for the
uncertainty–threat model of ideology and no support for
rival hypotheses. There were two goals of Study 3. First,
to increase the generalizability of our results, we included
additional measures of uncertainty avoidance (intoler-
ance of ambiguity) and threat (perceptions of a danger-
ous world). Second, we sought to test the uncertainty–
threat model by incorporating an additional hypothesis
suggested by Jost et al. (2003a, 2003b), namely, that
resistance to change and opposition to equality are
important mediators that help explain why certain epis-
temic and existential needs would be associated with spe-
cific ideological outcomes (see also Thorisdottir, Jost,
Liviatan, & Shrout, 2007).
More specifically, Jost et al. (2003a) hypothesized that
heightened needs to reduce uncertainty and threat would
Jost et al. / UNCERTAINTY—THREAT MODEL 999
Uncertainty
Avoidance
1.00(.26)
∗∗
.48(.21)
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Model 1,
Model 1,
R
2
= .28
.28
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.69(.26)
∗∗
.51(.20)
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
.54(.18)
∗∗
Model 2,
Model 2,
R
2
2
= .37
.37
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.57(.20)
∗∗
.05(.12), ns
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
Model 3,
Model 3,
R
2
2
= .
= .
19
19
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.35(.21)+
.16(.12), ns
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
.22(.09)
Model 4,
Model 4,
R
2
2
= .28
.28
Figure 4 Results from Study 2 (N
=
108).
NOTE: Only the structural paths are shown. Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses.
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be associated with increased resistance to change and
acceptance of inequality and that these variables, in turn,
would be associated with increased political conser-
vatism. One possibility is that uncertainty and threat
avoidance would each motivate resistance to change as
well as opposition to equality. An alternative is that epis-
temic and existential motives would be differentially
associated with resistance to change and opposition to
equality. For instance, Jost et al. (2003a, p. 368) specu-
lated that uncertainty avoidance might lead to resistance
to change (i.e., preservation of the status quo), whereas
threat might lead to opposition to equality (i.e., attempts
at dominance, submission, or both). In our third and final
study, we were able to investigate these possibilities by
analyzing resistance to change and opposition to equality
as potential mediators of the relationship between psy-
chological motives and political orientation.
Method
Preselection of participants. Participants, all of
whom were taking one or more undergraduate courses
in psychology at a large private university in New
York, were preselected on the basis of a political orien-
tation measure completed in a mass-testing session at
the beginning of the semester. Specifically, they com-
pleted the same ideological self-placement item used in
Study 1. The purpose of this procedure was to ensure
that the sample included the widest possible range of
ideological preferences. Because the original ideological
distribution of the participant pool at large was nega-
tively skewed, we oversampled participants from the
conservative end of the distribution. Participants were
contacted by e-mail and invited to participate in a
study of social attitudes in exchange for course credit.
The final sample consisted of 182 participants (72.4%
female) from 18 to 34 years of age (M = 19.12,
SD = 1.77).
Instruments and procedure. Either individually or in
small groups, participants completed measures of
uncertainty avoidance, threat management, resistance
to change, opposition to equality, and ideological self-
placement. Uncertainty avoidance was measured using
three items selected from the Need for Order subscale of
Webster and Kruglanski’s (1994) Need for Closure
scale (α=.67), four items
5
from Budner’s (1962)
Ambiguity Intolerance scale (α=.56), and three items
from Costa and McCrae’s (1992) Openness to
Experience scale (α=.67), including items tapping
openness to ideas, openness to fantasy, and openness to
aesthetics. Although these shortened versions of the
scales exhibited fairly low reliabilities, this was not
a serious concern because we were modeling latent
constructs, which take into account measurement error,
and our measurement models (as described below)
demonstrated acceptable fits (John & Benet-Martínez,
2000; Kline, 2005).
Threat was measured using four items selected from
Duckitt, Wagner, du Plessis, and Birum’s (2002)
Perceptions of a Dangerous World scale (α=.72) and
the same terrorism item used in Study 1 to assess the
perception of system threat. A sample item from the
Dangerous World scale is “Things are getting so bad,
even a decent law-abiding person who takes sensible
precautions can still become a victim of violence and
crime.”
Resistance to change was assessed with two items: “I
would be reluctant to make any large-scale changes to
the social order” and “I have a preference for maintain-
ing stability in society, even if there seems to be prob-
lems with the current system” (α=.69). Opposition to
equality was measured with five items taken from
Kluegel and Smith’s (1986, pp. 106-107) research. A
sample item is: “If incomes were more equal, nothing
would motivate people to work hard” (α=.82).
Political orientation was measured on a scale ranging
from 1 (extremely liberal) to 9 (extremely conservative).
The sample mean was 3.93 (SD = 1.93). Ideological
extremism was estimated as in the previous two studies.
Results
Data preparation and model specification. Data
preparation and details of the analyses are the same as
in Studies 1 and 2. Uncertainty avoidance was estimated
using the three first-order latent variables of need for
order, intolerance of ambiguity, and lack of openness to
experience. Threat was estimated using the two first-
order latent constructs of perceptions of a dangerous
world and system threat. Covariances, correlations, and
variances are listed in Table 3.
Uncertainty and threat management as distinct moti-
vational clusters. To examine whether uncertainty and
threat management are distinct motivations, we again
compared a measurement model in which all five inde-
pendent variables loaded onto a single second-order fac-
tor to a measurement model with two second-order
factors, as illustrated in Figure 5. The fit statistics for the
first measurement model were: χ
2
/df = 194.14/148, NNFI
= .890, CFI = .905, RMSEA = .042. The fit of the second
measurement model, χ
2
/df = 175.75/143, NNFI = .923,
CFI = .935, RMSEA = .036, was once again significantly
better, ∆χ
M
2
(5) = 18.49, p < .01.
Uncertainty and threat management as independent
predictors of political orientation. The four structural
1000 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
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Jost et al. / UNCERTAINTY—THREAT MODEL 1001
TABLE 3: Variances, Covariances, and Correlations of Latent Variables (Study 3)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1. Need for order 1.12** –.10+ .22+ .20 .24 .37* –.17+ .42* –.17*
2. Openness to new experiences –.17+ .31
+
–.22* –.14 –.07 –.37** .15* .01 –.03
3. Ambiguity intolerance .24+ –.46* .77** .36* .50* .51** –.26** .11 .00
4. Perceptions of a dangerous
world .15 –.21 .34* 1.53** 1.18** .42* –.27* .04 .11
5. System threat .11 –.06 .28* .47** 4.16** 1.54** –.19 –.06 .04
6. Political conservatism .18* –.34** .30** .18* .39** 3.73** –.72** .46 .15
7. Ideological extremism –.15+ .25* –.29** –.21 –.09 –.36** 1.06** .03 –.07
8. Age .23* .01 .07 .02 –.02 .13 .02 3.13* .04
9. Sex –.18* –.06 .00 .10 .02 .09 –.08 .02 .80**
NOTE: Covariances are reported in the top triangle, variances are reported in italics on the diagonal, and correlations are reported in the bot-
tom triangle.
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.
.36(.13)
∗∗
.93
.26(.12)
∗∗
.61(.14)
∗∗
.82 .68
.88
.20
.63(.14)
∗∗
1.91(.10)
∗∗
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.12(.09),ns
.32(.12)
∗∗
Political
Conservatism
Ambiguity
Intolerance
Ideological
Extremism
Threat
Openness
Need for
Order
System
Threat
Dangerous
World
.71(.15)
∗∗
.93(.18)
∗∗
.44(.10)
∗∗
.79(.16)
∗∗
Figure 5 Two-factor measurement model from Study 3 (N = 182).
NOTE: Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses. Fit indices: χ
2
(139) = 170.64, non-normed fit index =
.923, comparative fit index = .937, root mean square error of approximation = .035.
models used to test our hypotheses are shown in Figure
6. In Model 1, we see that the results replicate those
of the first two studies. Both uncertainty avoidance, b = .73
(β=.39), p < .01, and threat, b = .55 (β=.28),
p < .01, were significantly and positively associated
with political conservatism. Model 2 shows that politi-
cal conservatism and ideological extremity were nega-
tively related, b = –.37 (β=–.17), p < .05, indicating
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that there were more liberal than conservative extrem-
ists in the sample. After adjusting for this sample bias,
uncertainty and threat avoidance remained significant
predictors of political conservatism. As shown in Model
3, there was again a significant negative relationship
between uncertainty avoidance and ideological extrem-
ity, b = –.46 (β=–.45), p < .01, and no relationship
between threat and extremity. This pattern remained
the same in Model 4, after adjusting for political orien-
tation. As in Study 2, uncertainty avoidance was associ-
ated with centrism (as well as conservatism).
Resistance to change and opposition to equality as
potential mediators. To examine the roles of resistance
to change and opposition to equality as potential medi-
ators of the effects of uncertainty and threat manage-
ment on political conservatism, we first constructed the
partially mediated structural model (Model 5) illus-
trated in Figure 7 (see Table 4 for the correlations,
covariances, and variances of the latent variables used
in this model). Fit statistics for Model 5 were as follows:
χ
2
(273) = 352.12, NNFI = .930, CFI = .942, RMSEA =
.040. This model reveals that uncertainty avoidance is a
strong predictor of resistance to change, b = 1.05 (β=
.70), p < .01, and it is a marginally significant predictor
of opposition to equality, b = .30 (β=.19), p < .10.
Threat was found to be unrelated to resistance to
change, b = .14 (β=.09), ns, but it was significantly
related to opposition to equality, b = .23 (β=.21), p <
.05. These results are consistent with Jost et al.’s
(2003a) conjecture that uncertainty avoidance would
motivate resistance to change, whereas threat would
motivate opposition to equality.
We found that after adjusting for all of the other vari-
ables in the model, resistance to change was a marginally
significant predictor of political conservatism, b = .46
(β=.36), p < .10, and opposition to equality was a sig-
nificant predictor, b = .24 (β=.19), p < .05. Taken
together, the independent and mediating variables
accounted for approximately 36% of the variance in
political orientation scores. Model 5 also shows that uncer-
tainty avoidance was no longer a significant predictor of
conservatism, b = .01 (β=.00), ns, after accounting for
the mediating variables of resistance to change and
opposition to equality. However, threat remained a sig-
nificant predictor of conservatism, b = .44 (β=.23),
p < .01, even after adjusting for the mediators.
Given these results, we constructed a second media-
tional model (see Model 6, Figure 7) in which the three
nonsignificant paths from Model 5 were dropped. This
1002 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.73(.19)
∗∗
.55(.16)
∗∗
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Model 1,
Model 1,
R
2
= .33
.33
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.56(.23)
.56(.16)
∗∗
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
.37(.17)
Model 2,
Model 2,
R
2
= .36
.36
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.46(.11)
∗∗
.03(.10), ns
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
Model 3,
Model 3,
R
2
= .19
.19
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.37(.12)
∗∗
.10(.10), ns
Political
Conservatism
Threat
Ideological
Extremism
.13(.06)
Model 4,
Model 4,
R
2
= .23
.23
Figure 6 Results from Study 3 (N
=
182).
NOTE: Only the structural paths are shown. Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses.
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model assumes that the effect of uncertainty avoidance
on political orientation is completely mediated by resis-
tance to change, whereas the effect of threat on political
orientation is only partially mediated by opposition to
equality. Model 6 fit the data well: χ
2
(276) = 356.00,
NNFI = .931, CFI = .941, RMSEA = .040. A likelihood-
ratio chi-square difference test revealed that Model 6 was
not significantly different from Model 5, χ
2
M
(3) = 3.41,
ns, indicating that the more parsimonious model fit the
data just as well as the saturated model.
In Model 6, we see that uncertainty avoidance was
significantly related to resistance to change, b = 1.07
(β=.72), p < .01, and threat was significantly related to
opposition to equality, b = .45 (β=.29), p < .01. Both
mediators were significantly related to political conser-
vatism, b = .43 (β=.34), p < .01, and b = .24 (β=.19),
Jost et al. / UNCERTAINTY—THREAT MODEL 1003
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.80
1.05(.21)
∗∗
.14(.17)
ns
.30(.11)
∗∗
Political
Conservatism
.23(.15)
.30(.17)+
Threat
Resistance
to Change
Opposition
to Equality
.01(.37)
ns
.44(.15)
∗∗
.24(.10)
.46(.28)+
.65(.27)
.68
.95
Model 5
Model 5
Uncertainty
Avoidance
.80
1.07(.19)
∗∗
.44(.12)
∗∗
Political
Conservatism
.45(.16)
∗∗
Threat
Resistance
to Change
Opposition
to Equality
.51(.19)
∗∗
.24(.08)
∗∗
.43( .13)
∗∗
.78(.24)
∗∗
.69
.96
Model 6
Model 6
Figure 7 Results from mediational analyses of Study 3.
NOTE: Unstandardized regression weights are followed by standard errors in parentheses.
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p < .01, respectively. In addition, there remained a
direct effect of threat on political conservatism, b = .51
(β=.27), p < .01. Thus, resistance to change fully medi-
ated the effect of uncertainty avoidance on political ori-
entation, and opposition to equality partially mediated
the effect of threat on political orientation.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
In three studies we examined competing models of the
cognitive and motivational underpinnings of political ori-
entation. Specifically, we pitted the uncertainty–threat
model of ideological preferences, which holds that uncer-
tainty avoidance and threat management are both associ-
ated with conservative (rather than liberal) opinions (Jost
et al., 2003a, 2003b), against alternatives in which these
variables were hypothesized to be associated with ideo-
logical extremity in general (e.g., Greenberg & Jonas,
2003) or only with extreme, authoritarian forms of right-
wing ideology (Crowson et al., 2005). All three studies
support the uncertainty–threat model but not the predic-
tions of the alternative models. Specifically, we found
that uncertainty and threat management contribute inde-
pendently to self-reported political conservatism, even
after adjusting for ideological extremity. We also found
that individual differences in death anxiety are signifi-
cantly associated with conservatism but not ideological
extremity in general.
Of course, there are methodological limitations that
future research would do well to overcome. First, cross-
sectional, correlational techniques do not allow us to draw
causal inferences. We think that an individual differences
approach to testing the uncertainty–threat model is a very
useful starting point, but we still do not have definitive evi-
dence that people who are initially high on uncertainty and
threat avoidance are subsequently more drawn to political
conservatism. However, it is worth pointing out that
longitudinal and experimental studies have shown that
support for conservative leaders and opinions is enhanced
under high- versus low-threat periods (e.g., Jost et al.,
2003a; Willer, 2004) and following the experimental
induction of death anxiety (e.g., Cohen et al., 2005; Cohen
et al., 2004; Jost et al., 2004; Landau et al., 2004). A sec-
ond limitation is that the present findings are based on col-
lege student samples, which may not be representative of
the population as a whole (Sears, 1986). Although we
agree that empirically validating the uncertainty–threat
model in the general population is an important direction
for future research, we did find remarkably consistent pat-
terns in three geographically and ideologically varied pop-
ulations with respect to the structure of epistemic and
existential motives and the extent to which they were asso-
ciated with political conservatism, adjusting for the effects
of ideological extremity.
These findings add to a growing body of evidence
suggesting that psychological needs and motives per-
taining to the management of uncertainty and threat are
related to individuals’ degree of attraction to liberal ver-
sus conservative ideologies (e.g., Block & Block, 2006;
Jost, 2006; Jost et al., 2003a, 2003b). As Tomkins
(1965) argued more than 40 years ago, it appears that
there are distinctive cognitive and motivational styles
that characterize liberals (or leftists) and conservatives
(or rightists) and that these styles emerge even in
domains that are not explicitly political (see Carney
et al., 2006). Differences with respect to tolerance for
uncertainty may show up in attitudes toward science,
religion, and education, among other areas of life.
Consider, for example, the contrasting views of science
and education expressed by two theoretical physicists
who were close contemporaries, namely, the left-leaning
Robert Oppenheimer and the right-leaning Edward
Teller (see Bird & Sherwin, 2005). Oppenheimer saw
science and education as exciting primarily because
there are so many unanswered questions, and any
attempts to understand the world are full of uncertainty
and complexity. He declared, for instance, that “no
1004 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN
TABLE 4: Variances, Covariances, and Correlations of Latent Variables for Mediational Analyses (Study 3)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Uncertainty avoidance 1
NT
.30** 1.09** .40** .74** –.36** –.17 –.01
2. Threat management .30** 1
NT
.46** .41** .75** –.10 –.03 .03
3. Resistance to change .73** .31** 2.24** 1.12** 1.51** –.42** .12 .18
4. Opposition to equality .26** .30** .49** 2.37** 1.27** –.45** –.01 .00
5. Political conservatism .38** .39** .53** .43** 3.69** –.70** .43 .19+
6. Ideological extremism –.35** –.10 –.27** –.29** –.36** 1.06** .03 –.06
7. Age .10 –.02 .05 –.00 .13 .02 3.12** .05
8. Sex –.02 .03 .13 .00 .11+ –.07 .03 .80**
NOTE: Covariances are reported in the top triangle, variances are reported in italics on the diagonal, and correlations are reported in the bot-
tom triangle.
+p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.
NT
Not tested.
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man should escape our universities without knowing
how little he knows.” Teller, by contrast, was motivated
by the definitive answers that science could provide
rather than by the complexities it reveals. He once
opined that “the main purpose of science is simplicity
and as we understand more things, everything is becom-
ing simpler” (Teller, Teller, & Talley, 1991, p. 2).
Although both Oppenheimer and Teller played central
roles in the development of the atomic bomb, they came
to hold different attitudes about nuclear weapons.
Whereas Oppenheimer grew increasingly ambivalent
about his life’s work (Bird & Sherwin, 2005), Teller
saw the invention of nuclear weapons as necessary and
justifiable because of threat management concerns. He
concluded in 1999: “Had we not pursued the hydrogen
bomb, there is a very real threat that we would now all
be speaking Russian. I have no regrets” (CNN, 1999).
The divergent psychological characteristics of liberals
and conservatives suggest that they may frequently expe-
rience conflict and tension in working with each other, as
Teller and Oppenheimer surely did (Bird & Sherwin,
2005). Both liberal and conservative thinking styles are
likely to possess at least some advantages and disadvan-
tages. It is at least conceivable that appreciating individual
differences in the epistemic and existential motivations
that underlie different political judgments and opinions
may move us closer to developing empathy and respect for
those who hold opposing political viewpoints (cf. Haidt
& Graham, 2007). It may also one day help us foster a
more objective, evidence-based approach to decision
making in realms that are as vital to society as national
security, privacy, justice, welfare, and war and peace.
NOTES
1. Perceptions of terrorist threat probably blend two distinguish-
able sources of anxiety: system threat and fear of death (see also
Landau et al., 2004). As noted in the text, our primary purpose was
to focus on similarities rather than differences among different exis-
tential (and epistemic) variables. Thus, unlike terror management the-
orists, we are not arguing that fear of death is qualitatively different
from other types of threat and anxiety. Furthermore, we find that
although perceptions of system threat and death anxiety are signifi-
cantly intercorrelated (r = .42, as shown in Table 1), as are system
threat and perceptions of a dangerous world (r = .47, as shown in
Table 3), these variables are not so highly intercorrelated as to suggest
that they are empirically redundant.
2. Because of the large number of observed variables in our stud-
ies, we present the covariances among latent rather than observed
variables. All of our models could be recreated by simulating indica-
tors based on the latent variables.
3. As mentioned in the text, sex and age were included in all models
as adjustment variables, but they are omitted from the figures for ease
of presentation. We found in Study 1 that men were more conservative
than women, b = .25, (β=.10), p < .05, and older participants were
more conservative than younger participants, b = .34, (β=.23),
p < .01. In addition, we found that age (but not sex) was a significant
predictor of ideological extremism, b = –.25 (β=–.30), p < .01, such
that younger participants tended to be more ideologically extreme. No
reliable effects of age or sex were observed in Studies 2 or 3.
4. As can be seen in Figure 3, decisiveness did not significantly
load onto the uncertainty avoidance factor. This finding is in line with
previous research, which has found that the decisiveness items tend to
load on a factor that is orthogonal to the rest of the need for closure
items (e.g., Kruglanski et al., 1997; Neuberg, Judice, & West, 1997).
A model in which the decisiveness factor was omitted yielded the same
results as those presented in this article.
5. Items taken from the Budner (1962) scale were worded as fol-
lows: “There is not necessarily a right way and wrong way to do every-
thing”; “I have always felt there is a clear difference between right and
wrong”; “An expert who doesn’t come up with a definite answer prob-
ably doesn’t know too much; and “People who insist on a yes or no
answer just don’t know how complicated things really are.”
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... The existing literature in this area has considered a wide variety of correlates, including the relationship between political preferences and income (Glaeser and Ward, 2006, among many others), individuals' social origins (Druckman and Lupia, 2000), and the role of personality (Malka et al., 2014). Part of this latter work has underlined the link between conservatism and the need for security and the ability to manage uncertainty (Jost et al., 2003(Jost et al., , 2007Malka et al., 2014;Beall et al., 2016); earlier work along these lines emphasizing the roles of aversion to novelty and worries about security can be found in Adorno et al. (1950) and Rokeach (1960), for example. Hibbing et al. (2014, p. 297) write that 'Compared with V C Oxford University Press 2022. ...
... However, our results can be read through the lenses of evidence coming from Psychology. Economic insecurity may develop the need for security which is, in turn, associated with a greater adherence to conservative values (Jost et al., 2003(Jost et al., , 2007Malka et al., 2014). The (perceived) ability of conservative parties to manage uncertainty may then change political preferences. ...
... Economic insecurity therefore increases support at the right side of the political spectrum. Recent research in psychology and political science (see Jost et al., 2003Jost et al., , 2007Inglehart and Norris, 2016;Walley, 2017) has underlined that individuals who value security and stability are more likely to support conservative parties. The economic-insecurity index that we propose using panel data on individuals' past incomes thus appears to at least partly capture this shift in political support toward the right. ...
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Economic insecurity has attracted growing attention, but there is no consensus as to its definition. We characterize a class of individual economic-insecurity measures based on the time profile of economic resources. We apply this economic-insecurity measure to political-preference data in the USA, UK, and Germany. Conditional on current economic resources, economic insecurity is associated with both greater political participation (support for a party or the intention to vote) and more support for conservative parties. In particular, economic insecurity predicts greater support for both Donald Trump before the 2016 US Presidential election and the UK leaving the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
... We argue that clusters that favor fundamentalism over secularism tend to be higher in various dimensions SDO, RWA, and NFCC. The rationale behind this assumption is that those with higher RWA and NFCC tend to preserve group purity and avoid threats from other groups (Haidt, 2012;Koleva, Graham, Iyer, Ditto, & Haidt, 2012), as well as desire a more simplistic or orderly understanding of the world (Jost et al., 2007;Muluk & Sumaktoyo, 2010). Those who are higher in SDO tend to support the involvement of Islam in public decision making would establish the dominion of Islam in the society. ...
... Fundamentalist Muslims also scored higher on the NFCC, the RWA aggression dimension, and all SDO dimensions. They also tend to have more simplistic cognition (Muluk & Sumaktoyo, 2010), a stronger need for certainty and order (Jost et al., 2007), hostility towards weaker minority groups (Duckitt, 2006), and a higher tendency to endorse intergroup hostility (Duckitt, 2006). (De Zavala, Cislak, & Wesolowska, 2010). ...
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This study explored the diversity of Muslim political attitudes by conducting a latent class analysis in the rarely investigated context of Indonesia—the largest Muslim country in the world. We surveyed a total of 1208 Indonesian Muslim participants from eight out of 33 Indonesian provinces. The latent class analysis revealed that there are six clusters of Muslim Individuals based on their political attitudes: Fundamentalist Muslim, Nationalist Muslim, Apolitical Muslim, Hijrah Muslim, Moderate Muslim, and Progressive Muslim. Moreover, we also found several meaningful differences in psychological correlates (right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and need for cognitive closure) across the six clusters. Taken together, this study sheds some light upon the diversity of Muslim political attitudes and the psychological tendencies that correspond with such attitudes.
... When reasoned democratic discourse is not possible because there are no agreed upon facts, all that is left is the political exercise of raw power. This strategy is consistent with political psychology research showing that epistemic and existential uncertainty motivate the adoption of conservative and authoritarian beliefs (Jost et al., 2003(Jost et al., , 2007. ...
... Agitation propaganda specifically works to motivate popular masses toward some collective action through adoption of conspiracy beliefs (Marmura, 2014). Like authoritarianism (Jost et al., 2007), the adoption of conspiracy beliefs can serve epistemic, existential, and social needs (Douglas et al., 2017). ...
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Based on our observations and scholarship about how democratic norms are currently being undermined, we propose a model of fascist authoritarianism that includes authoritarianism, the production and exaggeration of threats, conspiracy-oriented propaganda adoption, and distrust of reality-based professions. We refer to this as the Fascist Authoritarian Model of Illiberal Democracy (FAMID) and argue that all components are essential for understanding contemporary antidemocratic movements. We demonstrate that all components of FAMID correlate with illiberal antidemocratic attitudes, that Republicans generally score higher than Democrats on the model components, and that all components significantly contribute to predicting illiberal antidemocratic attitudes. We find approximately equal support for both left-wing and right-wing illiberal antidemocratic attitudes. The fascist authoritarian model of illiberal democracy helps explain the basic mechanisms by which an authoritarian leader works to erode liberal democratic norms—and does a better job at doing so than simpler authoritarianism theories.
... The results identified that individuals who politically declare themselves to be more left-wing, in a context of ideological transgression of a brand, tend to hate the brand more and declare less PI than self-declared more right-wing individuals. This is because conservative, right-wing individuals are more resistant to change (Jost et al., 2007), avoid uncertainty and can demonstrate greater involvement with brands (Chan et al., 2019;Jost;. ...
... In other words, in nations where certainty is highly valued, the social structure may influence residents' gender roles to a greater extent so that they have less agency and/or have a lesser desire to deviate from stereotypical gendered patterns of interests. Indeed, existing research has shown similar findings at the individual level such that those who are more highly avoidant of uncertainty tend to hold more conservative and traditional views and values (see e.g., Jost et al., 2007). Therefore, this result extends the conceptualization to societal/national influences of uncertainty avoidance as individuals in more ambiguity avoidant countries appear to follow more gender stereotypical roles (Hofstede et al., 2010). ...
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Are men and women more similar or different in their interests in careers? This question has propelled decades of research into the association between gender and vocational interests. However, our understanding of this question in an international context remains limited. In this study, we examined gender differences in vocational interests across national and cultural contexts by exploring whether national cultural dimensions would be associated with gender differences in the structure and mean levels of vocational interests in people/things, ideas/data, and prestige. Our findings support similarity in the structure of vocational interests for men and women across 42 countries based on two major models on interests. General trends of gender differences in interests emerge such that in comparison to men, women tend to report a large preference for working with people (versus things; d = 1.04), and smaller preferences for working with ideas (versus data; d = 0.29) and with prestige (d = 0.18). National cultural dimensions appear to moderate gender differences in interests beyond the influences of national gender inequality. Specifically, gender differences in interests in people (versus things) tend to be larger in countries of higher uncertainty avoidance and higher indulgence whereas gender differences in ideas (versus data) tend to be larger in countries of higher indulgence, uncertainty avoidance, and lower power distance. This study highlights how a better conceptualization of the influences of culture can inform vocational psychologists, gender studies researchers, and career counselors’ work with men and women in understanding their vocational interests.
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The corporate culture within firms is a significant concern for regulators, shareholders and other stakeholders. Drawing on a large sample of US firms, we use the political preferences of the top management team (TMT) to proxy for a firm's culture and examine whether it influences the decision to implement an effective internal control system (ICS) and whether the ICS plays a mediating role between the culture created by the TMT and financial reporting quality. We find that a Republican‐leaning TMT with a more conservative ideology is associated with a more effective internal control system. In addition, the TMT's political preferences affect financial reporting quality, both directly and indirectly, via the internal control system. A range of robustness tests reinforces our main findings.
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The rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis (RRH), which posits that cognitive, motivational, and ideological rigidity resonate with political conservatism, is an influential but controversial psychological account of political ideology. Here, we leverage several methodological and theoretical sources of this controversy to conduct an extensive quantitative review—with the dual aims of probing the RRH’s basic assumptions and parsing the RRH literature’s heterogeneity. Using multi-level meta-analyses of relations between varieties of rigidity and ideology measures alongside a bevy of potential moderators (s = 329, k = 708, N = 187,612), we find that associations between conservatism and rigidity are tremendously heterogeneous, suggesting a complex—yet conceptually fertile—network of relations between these constructs. Most notably, whereas social conservatism was robustly associated with rigidity, associations between economic conservatism and rigidity indicators were inconsistent, small, and not statistically significant outside of the United States. Moderator analyses revealed that non-representative sampling, criterion contamination, and disproportionate use of American samples have yielded over-estimates of associations between rigidity-related constructs and conservatism in past research. We resolve that drilling into this complexity, thereby moving beyond the question of if conservatives are essentially rigid to when and why they might or might not be, will help provide a more realistic account of the psychological underpinnings of political ideology.
Book
Trust in International Cooperation challenges conventional wisdoms concerning the part which trust plays in international cooperation and the origins of American multilateralism. Brian C. Rathbun questions rational institutionalist arguments, demonstrating that trust precedes rather than follows the creation of international organizations. Drawing on social psychology, he shows that individuals placed in the same structural circumstances show markedly different propensities to cooperate based on their beliefs about the trustworthiness of others. Linking this finding to political psychology, Rathbun explains why liberals generally pursue a more multilateral foreign policy than conservatives, evident in the Democratic Party's greater support for a genuinely multilateral League of Nations, United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Rathbun argues that the post-World War Two bipartisan consensus on multilateralism is a myth, and differences between the parties are growing continually starker.
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Traditional definitions of political ideology state that right‐wingers support system stability, whereas left‐wingers support social change. However, during the last decade many right‐wing movements have been on the rise and demanded far‐reaching changes. We argue that both left‐, and right‐wing protestors reject the status quo, and are motivated to change it – albeit in opposing directions: either to increase equality (progressive social change), or inequality (reactionary social change). In two studies (NStudy1 = 453, NStudy2 = 614), both left‐, and right‐wingers scored lower on system justification than moderates. Further, latent profile analyses showed that supporters of progressive social change were characterized by low system justification and left‐wing ideology, whereas supporters of reactionary social change were characterized by low system justification and right‐wing ideology. This indicates that right‐wingers do not necessarily support system stability – instead, they reject the status quo and promote change in the direction of greater inequality.
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Being intrinsically associated with death-related themes (e.g. decay, destruction, lack of control, chaos), communicating climate change risks may elicit thoughts in an audience about their own mortality – potentially invoking terror management responses. This study examined individual differences in death-thought accessibility (DTA) amongst Australian university students (N = 241) after exposure to information about climate change impacts, to predict climate change risk perceptions. It was posited that information about the impacts of climate change would lead to worldview defence (a terror management strategy) via increasing death-related thoughts. Although climate change salience did not invoke DTA, there was evidence that choosing not to complete word-fragments in a death-related manner reflected a high death-defensive response, rather than low-DTA. Compared with a control condition, climate change salience participants’ risk perceptions shifted liberally. The function of death-related thoughts depended on the individual’s climate change beliefs. Climate-deniers with high-DTA in the climate change salience condition showed greater risk perceptions compared to those with high-DTA in the control condition. Risk perceptions did not change as a function of DTA amongst climate-acceptors. A general implication was that climate change communications, may not produce counterproductive terror management outcomes as has been previously hypothesized. Rather they may motivate more realistic attitudes, such as perceiving climate change as high-risk, even amongst climate-deniers. From a policy perspective, to maximise acceptance, climate change information may benefit from being presented within frameworks that support individuals’ important personal worldviews.
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The issue of personality and prejudice has been largely investigated in terms of authontananism and social dominance orientation. However, these seem more appropriately conceptualized as ideological attitudes than as personality dimensions. The authors describe a causal model linking dual dimensions of personality social world view, ideological attitudes, and intergroup attitudes. Structural equation modeling with data from American and White Afrikaner students supported the model, suggesting that social conformity and belief in a dangerous world influence authoritarian attitudes, whereas toughmindedness and belief in a competitive jungle world influence social dominance attitudes, and these two ideological attitude dimensions influence intergroup attitudes. The model implies that dual motivational and cognitive processes, which may be activated by different kinds of situational and intergroup dynamics, may underlie 2 distinct dimensions of prejudice.
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The aim of the present study is twofold: (1) to test the factor structure of the Need for Closure scale (NFCS) in three different samples that were not studied previously: Polish (N = 340), Flemish (N = 623), and Korean (N = 429); and (2) to test the invariance of the structure of the scale across the present samples, as well as an American sample (N = 240). With respect to the first objective, our results point out that the two second-order factor model should be preferred. This result corroborates previous studies on American and west European samples. With respect to the second objective, the results provide support for structural invariance, partial metric invariance and partial scalar invariance of the NFC scale across the four samples. In other words, the need for cognitive closure has the same basic meaning and structure cross-nationally, and ratings can be meaningfully compared across countries. The results also revealed significant higher need for closure mean scores in the American and Korean samples than in the Flemish and especially the Polish samples.
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The idea for this book began over four decades ago when Edward Teller began teaching physics appreciation courses at the University of Chicago. Then, as now, Dr. Teller believes that illiteracy in science is an increasingly great danger to American society, not only for our chil­ dren but also for our growing adult population. On one hand, the future of every individual on this globe is closely related to science and its applications. Fear of the results of science, which has become prevalent in much of the Western World, leads to mistaken decisions in important political affairs. But this book speaks of no fears and of no decisions-only of the facts that can prevent one of them and indirectly guide the others. From the perspective of this book, a second point is even more vii viii PREFACE significant. The first quarter of this century has seen the most won­ derful and philosophically most important transformation in our thinking. The intellectual and aesthetic values of the points of view of Einstein and Bohr cannot be overestimated. Nor should they be hidden at the bottom of tons of mathematical rubble. Our young people must be exposed to science both because it is useful and because it is fun. Both of these qualities should be taken at a truly high value.
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The fundamental phenomenon of human closed-mindedness is treated in this volume. Prior psychological treatments of closed-mindedness have typically approached it from a psychodynamic perspective and have viewed it in terms of individual pathology. By contrast, the present approach stresses the epistemic functionality of closed-mindedness and its essential role in judgement and decision-making. Far from being restricted to a select group of individuals suffering from an improper socialization, closed-mindedness is something we all experience on a daily basis. Such mundane situational conditions as time pressure, noise, fatigue, or alcoholic intoxication, for example, are all known to increase the difficulty of information processing, and may contribute to one's experienced need for nonspecific closure. Whether constituting a dimension of stable individual differences, or being engendered situationally - the need for closure, once aroused, is shown to produce the very same consequences. These fundamentally include the tendency to 'seize' on early, closure-affording 'evidence', and to 'freeze' upon it thus becoming impervious to subsequent, potentially important, information. Though such consequences form a part of the individual's personal experience, they have significant implications for interpersonal, group and inter-group phenomena as well. The present volume describes these in detail and grounds them in numerous research findings of theoretical and 'real world' relevance to a wide range of topics including stereotyping, empathy, communication, in-group favouritism and political conservatism. Throughout, a distinction is maintained between the need for a nonspecific closure (i.e., any closure as long as it is firm and definite) and needs for specific closures (i.e., for judgments whose particular contents are desired by an individual). Theory and research discussed in this book should be of interest to upper level undergraduates, graduate students and faculty in social, cognitive, and personality psychology as well as in sociology, political science and business administration.
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The Need for Closure Scale (NFCS; D. M. Webster & A. W. Kruglanski, 1994) was introduced to assess the extent to which a person, faced with a decision or judgment, desires any answer, as compared with confusion and ambiguity. The NFCS was presented as being unidimensional and as having adequate discriminant validity. Our data contradict these conceptual and psychometric claims. As a unidimensional scale, the NFCS is redundant with the Personal Need for Structure Scale (PNS; M. M. Thompson, M. E. Naccarato, & K. E. Parker, 1989). When the NFCS is used more appropriately as a multidimensional instrument, 3 of its facets are redundant with the PNS Scale, and a 4th is redundant with the Personal Fear of Invalidity Scale (M. M. Thompson et al., 1989). It is suggested that the NFCS masks important distinctions between 2 independent epistemic motives: the preference for quick, decisive answers (nonspecific closure) and the need to create and maintain simple structures (one form of specific closure).
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Monte Carlo computer simulations were used to investigate the performance of three χ2 test statistics in confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Normal theory maximum likelihood χ2 (ML), Browne's asymptotic distribution free χ2 (ADF), and the Satorra-Bentler rescaled χ2 (SB) were examined under varying conditions of sample size, model specification, and multivariate distribution. For properly specified models, ML and SB showed no evidence of bias under normal distributions across all sample sizes, whereas ADF was biased at all but the largest sample sizes. ML was increasingly overestimated with increasing nonnormality, but both SB (at all sample sizes) and ADF (only at large sample sizes) showed no evidence of bias. For misspecified models, ML was again inflated with increasing nonnormality, but both SB and ADF were underestimated with increasing nonnormality. It appears that the power of the SB and ADF test statistics to detect a model misspecification is attenuated given nonnormally distributed data.