Cognitive underpinnings of nationalistic ideology in the context of Brexit.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
National Academy of Sciences
MetadataShow full item record
Zmigrod, L., Rentfrow, P., & Robbins, T. (2018). Cognitive underpinnings of nationalistic ideology in the context of Brexit.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (19), E4532-E4540. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1708960115
Nationalistic identities often play an influential role in citizens’ voting behaviour and political engagement. Nationalistic ideologies tend to have firm categories and rules for what belongs to and represents the national culture. In a sample of 332 UK citizens, we tested whether strict categorization of stimuli and rules in objective cognitive tasks would be evident in strongly nationalistic individuals. Using voting behaviour and attitudes from the UK’s 2016 EU Referendum, we found that a flexible representation of national identity and culture was linked to cognitive flexibility in the ideologically-neutral Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the Remote Associates Test, and to self-reported flexibility under uncertainty. Path analysis revealed that subjective and objective cognitive inflexibility predicted heightened authoritarianism, nationalism, conservatism, and system-justification, and these in turn were predictive of support for Brexit and opposition to immigration, the EU, and free movement of labour. This model accounted for 47.6% of the variance in support for Brexit. Path analysis models were also predictive of participants’ sense of personal attachment to the UK, signifying that individual differences in cognitive flexibility may contribute towards ideological thinking styles that shape both nationalistic attitudes and personal sense of nationalistic identity. These findings further suggest that emotionally-neutral “cold” cognitive information processing – and not just “hot” emotional cognition – may play a key role in ideological behaviour and identity.
Humans, Authoritarianism, Individuality, Cognition, Psychology, European Union, Politics, Adult, Female, Male, United Kingdom
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1708960115
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/277031