The biological roots of political extremism: Negativity bias, political ideology, and preferences for political news

Justin Robert Keene, Heather Shoenberger, Collin K. Berke, Paul D. Bolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent research has revealed the complex origins of political identification and the possible effects of this identification on social and political behavior. This article reports the results of a structural equation analysis of national survey data that attempts to replicate the finding that an individual's negativity bias predicts conservative ideology. The analysis employs the Motivational Activation Measure (MAM) as an index of an individual's positivity offset and negativity bias. In addition, information-seeking behavior is assessed in relation to traditional and interactive media sources of political information. Results show that although MAM does not consistently predict political identification, it can be used to predict extremeness of political views. Specifically, high negativity bias was associated with extreme conservatism, whereas low negativity bias was associated with extreme liberalism. In addition, political identification was found to moderate the relationship between motivational traits and information-seeking behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalPolitics and the Life Sciences
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Political orientation
  • approach system activation
  • defensive system activation
  • information selection
  • motivational activation
  • political ideology

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