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      Examining the Left‐Right Divide Through the Lens of a Global Crisis: Ideological Differences and Their Implications for Responses to the COVID‐19 Pandemic


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          The COVID‐19 disease pandemic is one of the most pressing global health issues of our time. Nevertheless, responses to the pandemic exhibit a stark ideological divide, with political conservatives (versus liberals/progressives) expressing less concern about the virus and less behavioral compliance with efforts to combat it. Drawing from decades of research on the psychological underpinnings of ideology, in four studies (total N = 4441) we examine the factors that contribute to the ideological gap in pandemic response—across domains including personality (e.g., empathic concern), attitudes (e.g., trust in science), information (e.g., COVID‐19 knowledge), vulnerability (e.g., preexisting medical conditions), demographics (e.g., education, income) and environment (e.g., local COVID‐19 infection rates). This work provides insight into the most proximal drivers of this ideological divide and also helps fill a long‐standing theoretical and empirical gap regarding how these various ideological differences shape responses to complex real‐world sociopolitical events. Among our key findings are the central role of attitude‐ and belief‐related factors (e.g., trust in science and trust in Trump)—and the relatively weaker influence of several domain‐general personality factors (empathic concern, disgust sensitivity, conspiratorial ideation). We conclude by considering possible explanations for these findings and their broader implications for our understanding of political ideology.

          Evidence for Practice

          • Stark ideological differences exist across a wide range of attitudinal and behavioral indices of pandemic response, with more conservative individuals reliably exhibiting less concern about the virus. These findings illustrate the extent to which the pandemic has become politicized.

          • A range of factors contribute to this ideological gap in pandemic response, but some are substantially more important than others.

          • Several factors that have received attention in public and academic discourse about the pandemic appear to contribute little, if at all, to the ideological divide. These include news following, scientific literacy, perceived social norms, and knowledge about the virus.

          • The most critical factors appear to be trust in scientists and trust in Trump, which further highlights the politicization of COVID‐19 and, importantly, the antagonistic nature of these two beliefs. Efforts to change and, especially, disentangle these two attitudes have the potential to be effective interventions.

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          Most cited references 68

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          Amazon's Mechanical Turk: A New Source of Inexpensive, Yet High-Quality, Data?

          Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a relatively new website that contains the major elements required to conduct research: an integrated participant compensation system; a large participant pool; and a streamlined process of study design, participant recruitment, and data collection. In this article, we describe and evaluate the potential contributions of MTurk to psychology and other social sciences. Findings indicate that (a) MTurk participants are slightly more demographically diverse than are standard Internet samples and are significantly more diverse than typical American college samples; (b) participation is affected by compensation rate and task length, but participants can still be recruited rapidly and inexpensively; (c) realistic compensation rates do not affect data quality; and (d) the data obtained are at least as reliable as those obtained via traditional methods. Overall, MTurk can be used to obtain high-quality data inexpensively and rapidly.
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            Microbes, mating, and morality: individual differences in three functional domains of disgust.

            What is the function of disgust? Whereas traditional models have suggested that disgust serves to protect the self or neutralize reminders of our animal nature, an evolutionary perspective suggests that disgust functions to solve 3 qualitatively different adaptive problems related to pathogen avoidance, mate choice, and social interaction. The authors investigated this 3-domain model of disgust across 4 studies and examined how sensitivity to these functional domains relates to individual differences in other psychological constructs. Consistent with their predictions, factor analyses demonstrated that disgust sensitivity partitions into domains related to pathogens, sexuality, and morality. Further, sensitivity to the 3 domains showed predictable differentiation based on sex, perceived vulnerability to disease, psychopathic tendencies, and Big 5 personality traits. In exploring these 3 domains of disgust, the authors introduce a new measure of disgust sensitivity. Appreciation of the functional heterogeneity of disgust has important implications for research on individual differences in disgust sensitivity, emotion, clinical impairments, and neuroscience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).
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              A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy

               Davis,  M. DAVIS,  MH Davis (1980)

                Author and article information

                Polit Psychol
                Polit Psychol
                Political Psychology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                05 May 2021
                [ 1 ] The Ohio State University
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Benjamin Coe Ruisch, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands.

                E‐mail: b.c.ruisch@ 123456fsw.leidenuniv.nl

                © 2021 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 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 3, Pages: 22, Words: 21018
                Funded by: National Science Foundation , open-funder-registry 10.13039/100000001;
                Award ID: Grant #2031097
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                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:6.0.2 mode:remove_FC converted:30.06.2021

                covid‐19, ideology, individual differences, politics


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