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A Leader Who Sees the World as I Do: Voters Prefer Candidates Whose Statements Reveal Matching Social-Psychological Attitudes

Baron, D; Lauderdale, B; Sheehy-Skeffington, J; (2023) A Leader Who Sees the World as I Do: Voters Prefer Candidates Whose Statements Reveal Matching Social-Psychological Attitudes. Political Psychology 10.1111/pops.12891. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: A Leader Who Sees the World as I Do: Voters Prefer Candidates Whose Statements Reveal Matching Social-Psychological Attitudes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/pops.12891
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12891
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Authors. Political Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Society of Political Psychology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Keywords: vote choice, intergroup relations, discrete choice experiment, adaptive followership, authoritarianism, egalitarianism
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10167501
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