Party over policy: The dominating impact of group influence on political beliefs

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Nov;85(5):808-22. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.85.5.808.


Four studies demonstrated both the power of group influence in persuasion and people's blindness to it. Even under conditions of effortful processing, attitudes toward a social policy depended almost exclusively upon the stated position of one's political party. This effect overwhelmed the impact of both the policy's objective content and participants' ideological beliefs (Studies 1-3), and it was driven by a shift in the assumed factual qualities of the policy and in its perceived moral connotations (Study 4). Nevertheless, participants denied having been influenced by their political group, although they believed that other individuals, especially their ideological adversaries, would be so influenced. The underappreciated role of social identity in persuasion is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Denial, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Philosophy
  • Politics*
  • Public Policy*
  • Social Conformity
  • Social Facilitation*
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Welfare
  • Students / psychology