Threat, authoritarianism, and voting: An investigation of personality and persuasion

Howard Lavine, Diana J Burgess, Mark Snyder, John Transue, John L. Sullivan, Beth Haney, Stephen H. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examined whether the influence of persuasive messages emphasizing reward versus threat was moderated by authoritarianism. Five days before the 1996 presidential election, participants (N = 86) received either a reward-related message (emphasizing the positive benefits of voting) or a threat-related message (emphasizing the negative consequences of failing to vote) recommending that they vote in the election. We found that high authoritarians perceived the threat message as stronger in argument quality than the reward message, and low authoritarians perceived the reward message as stronger in argument quality than the threat message. In turn, subjective perceptions of message quality exerted a direct influence on participants' postmessage attitudes toward voting in the election. Finally, behavioral intentions mediated the influence of voting attitudes on actual voting behavior. Discussion focuses on the implications of the message frame and authoritarianism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-347
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1999

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