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Political Psychology

            Much of the literature on political psychology presents compelling evidence in favor of the notion that people subscribe to either liberal or conservative political ideologies because they think or process information along different psychosocial dimensions. These dimensions can underpin different cognitive styles that, in turn, motivate dispositions either in a more left or right leaning inclination. .
             In Political conservatism as motivated social cognition, Jost et al. first offer a critique as well as an overview of the vast history of relevant research, and then they integrate the various findings and the eclectic theories they have produced under a unifying theory of motivated social cognition. In doing so they argue that the psychological basis of political conservatism can be explained by linking psychosocial motivational needs and their cognitive constructs to the adoption of politically conservative attitudes. The theory claims that there is a "matching process that takes place whereby people adopt ideological belief systems that are most likely to satisfy their psychological needs and motives" (341).
             In order to satisfy them with a belief formation, however, these needs and motives determine the "extent" and "modes" of information processing as well as the "selective exposure" to available information about given issues (340). Thus, needs and motives influence the way information is processed because information itself plays a significant "role in the construction and preservation of ideological belief systems" (341). In order to better understand how psychosocial needs and motivations shape cognitive constructs that lead to the adoption of a certain political ideology, it is important to first dissect the anatomy of conservative political ideology into its requisite parts and see how specific social, cognitive, and motivational needs foster an allegiance to it.

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