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Emotion regulation as the Foundation of Political Attitudes: Does reappraisal decrease support for conservative policies?

  • Author(s): Lee, JJ
  • Sohn, Y
  • Fowler, JH
  • et al.
Abstract

Cognitive scientists, behavior geneticists, and political scientists have identified several ways in which emotions influence political attitudes, and psychologists have shown that emotion regulation can have an important causal effect on physiology, cognition, and subjective experience. However, no work to date explores the possibility that emotion regulation may shape political ideology and attitudes toward policies. Here, we conduct four studies that investigate the role of a particular emotion regulation strategy - reappraisal in particular. Two observational studies show that individual differences in emotion regulation styles predict variation in political orientations and support for conservative policies. In the third study, we experimentally induce disgust as the target emotion to be regulated and show that use of reappraisal reduces the experience of disgust, thereby decreasing moral concerns associated with conservatism. In the final experimental study, we show that use of reappraisal successfully attenuates the relationship between trait-level disgust sensitivity and support for conservative policies. Our findings provide the first evidence of a critical link between emotion regulation and political attitudes. © 2013 Lee et al.

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