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


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).

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Correspondence to Ian McGregor.

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Nail, P.R., McGregor, I. Conservative Shift among Liberals and Conservatives Following 9/11/01. Soc Just Res 22, 231–240 (2009).

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