On the Automaticity of Nationalist Ideology: The Case of the USA

Melissa J. Ferguson*, Travis J. Carter, Ran R. Hassin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

22 Scopus citations


How do people typically form opinions and make choices about national matters? What factors influence how people behave in the political realm? The majority of work on these questions in psychology and political science has emphasized the role of consciously accessible influences on political behavior, such as political party affiliation and an assortment of principles and values. Although there is no doubt that people consciously consult their nationalist ideologies in order to make decisions in the political arena, the focus of this chapter is on the possibility that nationalist ideological knowledge also operates automatically to guide and influence opinions and actions. Much work in social, cognitive, and political psychology would suggest that stored representations of nationalist-relevant knowledge, attitudes, goals, and behaviors can be activated by nationalist symbols and cues outside of people's awareness and intention, and then shape and influence their behavior. This possibility is considered in detail, and recent empirical findings in support of it are also summarized.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSocial and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification
EditorsJohn T. Jost, Aaron C. Kay, Hulda Thorisdottir
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199869541
ISBN (Print)9780195320916
StatePublished - 1 May 2009

Publication series

NameSeries in political psychology

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Automaticity
  • Nationalism
  • Political parties
  • Symbols


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