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Ideology shapes evaluation of history within the general population

Rigoli, F. ORCID: 0000-0003-2233-934X (2024). Ideology shapes evaluation of history within the general population. Political Psychology, doi: 10.1111/pops.12971


The way history is interpreted varies across ideologies as articulated by political thinkers and by leading politicians. Is history also assessed differently by laypeople reporting different ideological orientations? To address this, the article describes a study from six countries where, in addition to reporting their ideology on a left–right spectrum, participants evaluated the recent past, the present, and the near future. The data show that, in all countries, right- compared to left-wing supporters evaluated the past as more positive. To elucidate this effect, a second study manipulated the appraisal of the past between groups but found that this did not influence participants' ideology. A third study manipulated the salience of ideological representations between groups. Here, the high-salience group displayed a stronger link between ideology and evaluation of the past, indicating that embracing a certain ideology encourages a specific interpretation of the past. Exploring the factors mediating this effect, one last study found that nostalgia for tradition partially explains why right-wing supporters cherish the past more. Altogether, these observations show that how history is interpreted is central not only to intellectuals' writings and politicians' speeches but also to laypeople's political beliefs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 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 License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: evaluation, future, history, ideology, past
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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