The Catastrophic Link Between the Importance and Extremity of Political Attitudes

The Catastrophic Link Between the Importance and Extremity of Political Attitudes The catastrophe theory of attitudes (Latané and Nowak, 1994) predicts that unimportant attitudes act as continuous dimensions, with normal distributions and gradual changes in evaluation, while important attitudes act as categories, with bipolar or unipolar extreme distributions and catastrophic (abrupt) changes in evaluation. A major derivation from this theory is that attitude importance and extremity should be correlated, with more important attitudes being more extreme. This prediction was confirmed for 14 specific political issues at both the group and the individual level, as well as for political involvement and general liberalism. However, general political involvement was not related to the extremity of evaluation for specific issues; similarly, partisanship predicted extremity of general liberalism but not extremity on specific issues. Results suggest that attitude importance and extremity must be measured at corresponding levels of specificity in order for a relationship between them to hold. These results have implications for attitude change in both individuals and societies. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

The Catastrophic Link Between the Importance and Extremity of Political Attitudes

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Publisher
Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1024828729174
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The catastrophe theory of attitudes (Latané and Nowak, 1994) predicts that unimportant attitudes act as continuous dimensions, with normal distributions and gradual changes in evaluation, while important attitudes act as categories, with bipolar or unipolar extreme distributions and catastrophic (abrupt) changes in evaluation. A major derivation from this theory is that attitude importance and extremity should be correlated, with more important attitudes being more extreme. This prediction was confirmed for 14 specific political issues at both the group and the individual level, as well as for political involvement and general liberalism. However, general political involvement was not related to the extremity of evaluation for specific issues; similarly, partisanship predicted extremity of general liberalism but not extremity on specific issues. Results suggest that attitude importance and extremity must be measured at corresponding levels of specificity in order for a relationship between them to hold. These results have implications for attitude change in both individuals and societies.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 7, 2004

References

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