The Political Self: How Identity Aligns Preferences With Epistemic Needs

Christopher M Federico, Pierce D. Ekstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Numerous studies have indicated that the need for closure predicts political preferences. We examined a potential moderator of this relationship: political-identity centrality, or the extent to which individuals’ political preferences are central to their self-concept. We tested three hypotheses. First, we predicted that need for closure would be more strongly related to political identity (symbolic ideology and party identification; Hypothesis 1) and issue positions (operational ideology; Hypothesis 2) among individuals who see their political preferences as more self-central. Then we predicted that the stronger relationship between need for closure and issue positions among individuals high in centrality would be accounted for by stronger relationships between need for closure and political identity and between political identity and issue positions (Hypothesis 3). Data from a nationally representative survey provide evidence for these hypotheses, suggesting that the relationship between epistemic needs and political preferences differs as a function of how self-relevant politics is.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-913
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s) 2018.


  • identity
  • ideology
  • need for closure
  • open data
  • political psychology


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