The "We-ness" and Empathy of Liberalism

Publication Year:
2016
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Repository URL:
http://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/1370
Author(s):
Sparkman, David
Tags:
Psychology; Empathy; Liberalism; Political ideology; We-ness; Liberal Studies; Social Psychology
thesis / dissertation description
Most research in Social and political psychology focuses on the psychological antecedents to conservatism; the primary aim of this work was to investigate antecedents to liberalism. This led to an examination of we-ness and empathy as underlying mechanisms to liberal attitudes. Using perspective taking as a cognitive process common to both we-ness and empathy, I tested a model of we-ness and empathy as serial mediators of the effect of perspective taking on political attitudes. Results suggested that we-ness and empathy serially mediated the association between perspective taking and liberalism (and its Social and economic sub-attitudes), and empathy independently mediated the association between perspective taking and liberalism (and its Social and economic sub-attitudes; Study 1). Causal evidence for this model was less supportive; directly manipulating perspective taking revealed no causal effect on political attitudes in any regard (Study 2). Distinctions between two forms of we-ness (interpersonal vs. collective) and their relationship to liberalism and conservatism are discussed.