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Political extremism and a generalised propensity to discriminate among values

Rigoli, F. ORCID: 0000-0003-2233-934X (2023). Political extremism and a generalised propensity to discriminate among values. Political Psychology, 44(2), pp. 301-318. doi: 10.1111/pops.12839


Research exploring the psychological differences between people supporting extreme versus moderate ideologies is growing. However, this research has rarely examined the domain of values. Here we explore this domain by assessing the possibility that political extremists discriminate more among values compared to moderates; namely that extremists exhibit strong commitment towards some values at the expense of other values, whereas moderates would acknowledge a multiplicity of values as equally important. First, we propose a model positing that a value discriminability parameter captures a general tendency to discriminate among values. Second, we test empirically the prediction that, compared to moderates, political extremists exhibit higher discriminability parameter. This prediction is supported by four studies (including one based on the European Social Survey where representative samples from 29 European countries are examined) where participants reported their ideological orientation and rated the importance of basic human values (we focused on basic values as these transcend the political domain, thus highlighting general effects). Specifically, in all studies we observed a positive correlation between political extremism and residual variability in ratings, a hallmark of higher discriminability parameter. These findings highlight the value domain as critical to understand differences between political extremists and moderates.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author. 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 License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: political extremism; values; value discriminability; European social survey
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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