December 8, 2014 at 11:49 am

Simpson Article Probes Models that Underlie Prototypical Left and Right Positions

Dr. Ain Simpson, a post-doc research associate in Psychology at Ohio University, published a journal article on “Different relational models underlie prototypical left and right positions on social issues.”

The article is in the Nov. 14 issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Abstract: Social issues are important dividing lines in the “culture wars” between the political left and right. Despite much research into social issue stance and ideology, little research has explored these with Relational Models Theory (RMT). RMT proposes four distinct models that people use to construe social relations, each entailing distinct moral considerations. In two studies, participants read summaries of the models, rated how relevant each was to their positions on several social issues (e.g., capital punishment), and expressed issue positions. In Study 1, Communal Sharing and Equality Matching construals predicted prototypical liberal positions across a range of issues; Authority Ranking and Market Pricing construals predicted prototypical conservative positions. By using multilevel modelling in Study 2, individual differences in average Communal Sharing and Authority Ranking construals predicted prototypical liberal and conservative positions, respectively, independent of several factors known to predict social issue stance. In issue-specific analyses (e.g., focusing on euthanasia), all models showed effects independent of self-reported ideology, while for certain issues (same-sex marriage, animal testing, gun control, and flag burning), issue construal using different models predicted opposing positions, implicating relational models in moral disagreement. This paper provides novel tests of Relationship Regulation Theory and suggests that RMT is relevant in understanding political ideology, social issue stance, and moral judgement. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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