Who would mourn democracy? Liberals might, but it depends on who's in charge

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2022 May;122(5):779-805. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000291. Epub 2021 Dec 16.


Despite widespread support for the principles of democracy, democratic norms have been eroding globally for over a decade. We ask whether and how political ideology factors into people's reactions to democratic decline. We offer hypotheses derived from two theoretical lenses, one considering ideologically relevant dispositions and another considering ideologically relevant situations. Preregistered laboratory experiments combined with analyses of World Values Survey (WVS) data indicate that there is a dispositional trend: Overall, liberals are more distressed than conservatives by low democracy. At the same time, situational factors also matter: This pattern emerges most strongly when the ruling party is conservative and disappears (though it does not flip into its mirror image) when the ruling party is liberal. Our results contribute to ongoing debates over ideological symmetry and asymmetry; they also suggest that, if democracy is worth protecting, not everyone, everywhere will feel the urgency. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Democracy*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Politics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires