Are Leftists More Emotion-Driven Than Rightists? The Interactive Influence of Ideology and Emotions on Support for Policies

Ruthie Pliskin, Daniel Bar-Tal, Gal Sheppes, Eran Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Although emotions and ideology are important factors guiding policy support in conflict, their interactive influence remains unclear. Based on prior findings that ideological leftists’ beliefs are more susceptible to change than rightists’ beliefs, we tested a somewhat counterintuitive extension that leftists would be more susceptible to influence by their emotional reactions than rightists. In three laboratory studies, inducing positive and negative emotions affected Jewish–Israeli leftists’, but not rightists’, support for conciliatory policies toward an adversarial (Studies 1 and 3) and a non-adversarial (Study 2) outgroup. Three additional field studies showed that positive and negative emotions were related to leftists’, but not rightists’, policy support in positive as well as highly negative conflict-related contexts, among both Jewish (Studies 4 and 5) and Palestinian (Study 6) citizens of Israel. Across different conflicts, emotions, conflict-related contexts, and even populations, leftists’ policy support changed in accordance with emotional reactions more than rightists’ policy support.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1681-1697
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number12
StatePublished - 24 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was partially funded by a grant from the Israeli Science Foundation [1231/1] to the second and fourth authors and by a European Research Commission grant [335607] to the fourth author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • conflict
  • emotion
  • ideology
  • intergroup processes
  • political psychology


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