Social Justice Research

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 231-240

First online:

Conservative Shift among Liberals and Conservatives Following 9/11/01

  • Paul R. NailAffiliated withUniversity of Central Arkansas
  • , Ian McGregorAffiliated withYork University Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Political orientation and political attitudes were measured in two independent adult samples. One sample was taken several months before the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01; the other, shortly after. Liberal and conservative participants alike reported more conservative attitudes following 9/11/01 than before. This conservative shift was strongest on two items with the greatest relevance to 9/11/01: George W. Bush and Increasing Military Spending. Marginally significant conservative shifts were observed on two other items (Conservatives, Socialized Medicine), and the direction of change on eight of eight items was in a conservative direction. These results provide support for the motivated social cognition model of conservatism (Jost et al., 2003) over predictions derived from terror management theory (e.g., Greenberg et al., 1992).


Motivated social cognition Terror management theory Worldview defense Political orientation Liberals Conservatives Psychological defenses Terrorist threats 9/11 Terrorism