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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2012 Nov;38(11):1437-52. doi: 10.1177/0146167212452313. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Motivated independence? Implicit party identity predicts political judgments among self-proclaimed Independents.

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Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400, USA.


Reporting an Independent political identity does not guarantee the absence of partisanship. Independents demonstrated considerable variability in relative identification with Republicans versus Democrats as measured by an Implicit Association Test (IAT; M = 0.10, SD = 0.47). To test whether this variation predicted political judgment, participants read a newspaper article describing two competing welfare (Study 1) or special education (Study 2) policies. The authors manipulated which policy was proposed by which party. Among self-proclaimed Independents, those who were implicitly Democratic preferred the liberal welfare plan, and those who were implicitly Republican preferred the conservative welfare plan. Regardless of the policy details, these implicit partisans preferred the policy proposed by "their" party, and this effect occurred more strongly for implicit than explicit plan preference. The authors suggest that implicitly partisan Independents may consciously override some partisan influence when making explicit political judgments, and Independents may identify as such to appear objective even when they are not.

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