BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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The political-psychological foundations of support for the regime and its institutions

Erhardt, Julian (2023). The political-psychological foundations of support for the regime and its institutions. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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This thesis challenges a prominent proposition about political support for democracy. Earlier research contends that specific support for incumbent authorities fluctuates with the performance of the political system, whereas diffuse support for democracy is acquired through socialization and remains stable thereafter. Adding to recent evidence that strives to overcome this clear-cut distinction, this dissertation demonstrates that the proposition should be regarded as a matter of degree rather than principle. It presents evidence for both stability and short-term fluctuations by examining the political-psychological foundations of support for the regime and its institutions. The four articles offer three key contributions to the field. First, support for democracy rests on deep-rooted big five personality traits and the conception of national identity. This provides a previously neglected explanation for why diffuse regime preferences are more stable than specific support and shows that they are not only acquired through socialization. Second, emotions and national identity determine whether external shocks strengthen or weaken democratic regime preferences. As a result, diffuse support for democracy, despite its stability, simultaneously fluctuates with individual experiences of crises. Third, emotions and cognitive processes shape how changes in representation affect performance evaluations and trust towards the political regime and its institutions. For the first time, this is demonstrated with long-term panel data exploring the temporal dynamics of this relationship. In sum, this dissertation advances our current understanding of political support by identifying the political-psychological foundations – personality, social identity, emotions and cognitive processes – at its core.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Cumulative
Date of Defense: 30 March 2023
Subjects: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science
Institute / Center: 03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science
Depositing User: Hammer Igor
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2024 10:42
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2024 23:25

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