What is it about?

Political ideology is a complex phenomenon that influences how people think, feel, and act. One influential theory is that political conservatives tend to be more rigid than liberals in their cognitive, motivational, and ideological domains. This means that conservatives are more likely to resist change, prefer order and structure, and adhere to their beliefs and values. However, this theory, known as the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis (RRH), has been challenged by many researchers who argue that it is oversimplified, biased, or inaccurate. In this paper, we conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of 329 studies with 187,612 participants to examine the relationship between conservatism and various indicators of rigidity. We found that the relationship is very complex and depends on many factors, such as the type of conservatism (social vs. economic), the type of rigidity (cognitive vs. motivational vs. ideological), the cultural context (US vs. non-US), and the quality of the research methods (representative vs. non-representative samples, criterion contamination, etc.). We also found that some of the previous evidence for the RRH was inflated by these factors and that the relationship between conservatism and rigidity is not as strong or consistent as previously thought.

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Why is it important?

This paper is important because it provides a more realistic and nuanced account of the psychological underpinnings of political ideology. It challenges some of the common assumptions and stereotypes about conservatives and liberals and shows that they are not essentially rigid or flexible, but rather vary depending on the situation and the perspective. It also offers some suggestions for future research on how to measure and understand political ideology more accurately and fairly.

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This page is a summary of: Revisiting the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis: A meta-analytic review., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, November 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000446.
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