--Original published at Kevin Psych Blog
A recent study found there is a link between being angry and espousing economically conservative views.
Research involved several studies done with varying groups of people, each study introduced different methods of testing in an attempt to find if and how emotions played a role in political ideology, specifically if anger could be linked to right wing economic opinions. These studies found that anger can be connected to competitiveness, which in turn increases the likelihood for someone to take on right wing opinions.
The first study conducted involved participants, selected from an undergraduate subject pool, being asked to fill out a scale survey (rating statements from 1 to 5) on three topics; anger proneness, competitiveness, and finally economic ideology. Surveys similar to this were also used in the other three studies. This study, as predicted, showed a correlation between anger proneness and economic conservatism as anger proneness predicted competitiveness which in turn predicted economic conservatism.
The second study consisted of 203 recruits from Amazon Mechanical Turk. It hoped to separate sociocultural and economic conservatism, and see if anger increased both. The idea was that if sociocultural and economic ideals came from the same goals, anger should promote conservative views in both. This study hoped to evoke anger in participants by having the “anger” group respond to a writing prompt in which they were to describe something that frustrates them, while the control group wrote about a typical day for them. Afterwards the participants filled out two scales which borrowed from the original in the first study as well as two scales measuring independence and sociocultural beliefs. At the end of this study the participants were asked which side of the political spectrum they felt they fell on. The study again found a link between anger and economic conservatism but not between anger and sociocultural conservatism.
Study three sought to show how fear, specifically a perceived threat to ones environment, might affect someones political views. It also wanted to compare competitiveness with a possible alternative, “other-blaming”. Participants (undergraduate students again) were asked to complete an identical writing task as seen in the second study. After the writing they were asked to complete an emotional testing scale, separated by type of emotion (anger, anxiety, and fear). They were asked to rank how accurate a word pertaining to that emotion was to how they were feeling on a scale from one to five. Then participants again completed the competitiveness scale from study one. After all of this they were given two hypothetical candidates, one who espoused right wing economic views and one with left wing economic views and asked who they would support, then asked where they believed they leaned politically. The results of the study showed that people who felt angry were more likely to “other blame” than people in the control group or in the fear group, but that only competitiveness had an impact on rates of conservatism.
For the final study the researchers turned to Amazon Technical Turk for recruits again. In this study participants believed they were completing two completely separate tasks, one was the emotion manipulation activity used in the second study, and the other involved unscrambling words that evoked resource scarcity, resource abundance, or were neutral as the control group. After these tasks were done they responded to the same scales from the first two studies. Unsurprisingly the study showed that people placed in the resource scarcity group were much more likely to express economically conservative views. The researched believed this was a result of the environment having an effect on peoples emotions, causing them to become more competitive.
Overall these studies have shown that people who are more prone to anger are also often more likely to hold conservative economic views. However it is important to understand that only economic ideology was impacted, sociocultural views were not affected and thus demonstrated to be played on by other emotions. It is necessary for people to understand things like this, so as to help them better form opinions and keep in mind that their emotions could be being played with to manipulate them during election seasons. Hopefully by arming people with this information they can keep themselves more informed and more rational.
I found it pretty easy to summarize the original research article in the allocated amount of words. It’s really a simple task when I just made sure to get straight to the point. I chose to summarize each study individually, how they were done and what the results were. I tried not to waste anytime with fluff like news articles tend to due to keep the audience interesting. I just wanted to explain exactly what was found as well as I could personally understand it, and the amount of words I was given was more than enough to do that. I don’t think I was forced to leave out any information, if information was left out it was because I either didn’t completely grasp what I was reading or I felt it unnecessary (such as repeating results from previous studies). When I talked about “fluff” I was referring to things I noticed in the original news article like quotes that didn’t really need to be there, such as one meant to give an example of someones response to the “what makes you angry” question. I didn’t think it was really needed to give someones response, you save time if you just get to the point and tell us what the results of the study were. I don’t think you need to give an example of “what makes someone angry”, most people probably get that concept. Without things like that I believe I was probably able to explain the studies a little more in depth than the news article did, and I used even less words. I don’t like the generalize so I won’t speak for all journalists, but the writer of the article I picked seemed more concerned with writing an interesting article than an informational one, which I don’t fault them for, I just think if it was more dense it could have had more information packed into the amount of words used.
Keri L. Kettle, Anthony Salerno (June 6, 2017) Anger Promotes Economic Conservatism Retrieved from Sage.