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A leader who sees the world as I do: voters prefer candidates whose statements reveal matching social psychological attitudes

Baron, Denise, Lauderdale, Benjamin E. and Sheehy-Skeffington, Jennifer ORCID: 0000-0003-0372-4867 (2023) A leader who sees the world as I do: voters prefer candidates whose statements reveal matching social psychological attitudes. Political Psychology, 44 (4). pp. 893-916. ISSN 0162-895X

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Identification Number: 10.1111/pops.12891


Politicians are increasingly able to communicate their values, attitudes, and concerns directly to voters. Yet little is known about which of these signals resonate with voters and why. We employ a discrete choice experiment to investigate whether and which social-psychological attitudes predict how adult British voters respond to corresponding attitudinal signals communicated by candidates in hypothetical social media posts. For all attitudes studied, covering social feelings (trust, collective nostalgia), social perceptions (nationalism, populist sentiment), and social commitments (national identification, authoritarianism, egalitarianism), we find that participants are much more likely to vote for candidates who signal proximity to their own attitudinal position and less likely for candidates who signal opposing views. The strongest effects were observed for national identification, authoritarianism, and egalitarianism, indicating the importance of commitment to a shared group and to particular principles for distributing power and resources within and between groups. We further demonstrate that social-psychological attitudes are not acting as mere proxies for participants' past votes or left–right ideology. Our results extend adaptive followership theory to incorporate preferences concerning intragroup coordination and intergroup hierarchy, while highlighting the social-psychological dynamics of political communication that may transcend the concerns of particular election cycles.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2023 10:54
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2023 22:42

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