Feeling superior is a bipartisan issue: extremity (not direction) of political views predicts perceived belief superiority.

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Accusations of entrenched political partisanship have been launched against both conservatives and liberals. But is feeling superior about one's beliefs a partisan issue? Two competing hypotheses exist: the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis (i.e., conservatives are dogmatic) and the ideological-extremism hypothesis (i.e., extreme views on both sides predict dogmatism). We measured 527 Americans' attitudes about nine contentious political issues, the degree to which they thought their beliefs were superior to other people's, and their level of dogmatism. Dogmatism was higher for people endorsing conservative views than for people endorsing liberal views, which replicates the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis. However, curvilinear effects of ideological attitude on belief superiority (i.e., belief that one's position is more correct than another's) supported the ideological-extremism hypothesis. Furthermore, responses reflecting the greatest belief superiority were obtained on conservative attitudes for three issues and liberal attitudes for another three issues. These findings capture nuances in the relationship between political beliefs and attitude entrenchment that have not been revealed previously.





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Toner, Kaitlin, Mark R Leary, Michael W Asher and Katrina P Jongman-Sereno (2013). Feeling superior is a bipartisan issue: extremity (not direction) of political views predicts perceived belief superiority. Psychological science, 24(12). pp. 2454–2462. 10.1177/0956797613494848 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23968.

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Mark R. Leary

Garonzik Family Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Mark Leary is Garonzik Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from West Virginia Wesleyan College and his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Florida.  He taught previously at Denison University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Wake Forest University.

Leary has published 14 books and more than 250 scholarly articles and chapters on topics dealing with social motivation, emotion, and self-relevant thought, including The Curse of the Self: Self-awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life.  He has also recorded two courses for the Teaching Company's Great Courses series: Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior and Why You Are Who You Are: Investigations to Human Personality.

Leary is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.  He received the Lifetime Career Award from the International Society for Self and Identity and was co-recipient of the Scientific Impact Award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology.  He was founding editor of Self and Identity, editor of Personality and Social Psychology Review, and served as President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. 

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