Basic human values and political judgment: A broader approach

Paul Goren, Matthew Motta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Pioneering research by John Sullivan (Marcus, Tabb, and Sullivan 1974) and his students (Feldman and Conover 1979; Hurwitz and Peffley 1987; Feldman 1988) demonstrates that American citizens employ basic values in lieu of ideological principles to guide opinion formation in the key issue areas on the nation’s agenda. Since then, research on basic values and public opinion has flourished across the social sciences. The core political values approach has compiled an expansive list of domain specific values said to shape opinion within and across multiple issue areas. As such, political value models seem to answer the question of how ideological innocents make sense of politics. However, in taking a piecemeal approach to the study of values, the core political values framework has become problematic. We propose that universalism values, which prioritize transcending the self to help others, and conservation values, which prioritize the preservation of what has proven true in religion, culture, and society shape mass political judgment. The chapter shows that universalism and conservation shape evaluations of prominent political leaders and candidates. We suggest that the application of Schwartz’s theory provides a more plausible and parsimonious account of public opinion and political behavior than the domain specific values framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAt the Forefront of Political Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of John L. Sullivan
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781000768138
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis.


Dive into the research topics of 'Basic human values and political judgment: A broader approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this