How a Threat to Women's Healthcare in the U.S. Could Lead to a Liberal Shift



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Literature on traditional ideas of threat, such as terrorism, primarily shows increased support for political conservatism (Jost et al., 2003; 2007), while little research exists on how broader conceptualizations of threat may increase support for liberalism. The current research aims to extend findings from Eadeh and Chang (2020), exploring how threat may influence support for liberal ideology. Two between-subjects experiments were conducted focusing on healthcare threats at the group and individual level. The preliminary study (Experiment 1) explored perceptions of threat to women’s healthcare and found healthcare threats to be perceived as similarly threatening to terrorism. Using a pretest-posttest design, the primary study (Experiment 2) explored possible shifts in political attitudes after exposure to healthcare threats. Results show an increase in liberal healthcare beliefs after exposure to the “individual” healthcare threat, but not the “group” healthcare threat. Moral foundations of care/harm (Haidt & Graham, 2007) were also explored in addition to the importance and relevance of women’s healthcare. Implications for future research on threat and political ideology are discussed.



political psychology, political ideology, social psychology, liberalism, conservatism, healthcare, threat, political attitudes, Moral Foundations Theory, women, women's healthcare, healthcare attitudes, liberal shift, Basic Personal Values, Social Identity Theory, liberal threats, healthcare threat