The effects of psychological security and insecurity on political attitudes and leadership preferences



Recent research from different perspectives suggests that uncertainty, mortality salience (MS), and other fundamental threats that cause feelings of insecurity motivate people to adhere to specific kinds of anxiety-reducing political attitudes and values. In the current studies, we examined a complementary prediction that providing people with an alternative source of security would reduce their need to defend against insecurity, resulting in lower endorsement of the anxiety-reducing political attitudes. Results supported this prediction, showing that security primes buffered or reversed the effects of insecurity and threats on political attitudes and leadership preferences. Participants primed with attachment security showed reduced liking of a strong, charismatic political candidate (Study 1), and lower support for the Iraq war, even in the face of mortality reminders (Study 2). We discuss these findings in the context of research on motivated social cognition, political psychology, and the effects of security and insecurity on attitudes and behaviors. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.