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Non-political anger shifts political preferences towards stronger leaders

NOMIS Awardee Manos Tsakiris and colleagues published their findings in Nature Science Reports showing that anger that is not generated in a political context can shift political preferences in specific directions.


Manos Tsakiris (Photo: Ines Njers)

Past research has shown that anger is associated with support for confrontational and punitive responses during crises, and notably with the endorsement of authoritarian ideologies. One important question is whether it is anger generated specifically in a political context that explains the association between anger and specific political preferences or whether any feeling of anger would be associated with changes in political attitudes. Here, we tested the effect of non-politically motivated incidental anger on the preference for strong leaders. In line with past research, we predicted that anger would increase preferences for strong leaders. Across two experiments, we exposed participants to an anger induction task. Before and after this experimental manipulation, we measured participants’ political leader preferences by asking them to choose between the faces of two leaders they would vote for in a hypothetical election. The level of self-reported anger predicted the probability of choosing more dominant-looking and less trustworthy-looking leaders after the induction, suggesting that even non-political incidental anger increases preferences for strong leaders.

Read the Nature Science Reports publication: Non-political anger shifts political preferences towards stronger leaders


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Professor of Psychology
Royal Holloway University of London, The Warburg Institute
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