Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

This study examines the effects of candidate religiosity, candidate secularism, and voter fundamentalism on voters' support for a political candidate. Seven effects were tested: 1) the religiosity effect, which suggests that a religious candidate will be supported more than a nonreligious candidate; 2) the secularism effect, which suggests that a secular candidate will be supported more than a nonsecular candidate; 3) the JFK effect, which suggests that a secular religious candidate will be supported more than a nonsecular religious candidate; 4) the deviant effect--an opposite of the JFK effect--, which suggests that a secular religious candidate constitutes a group deviant, and thus will be supported less than a nonsecular religious candidate; 5) the moderating effect of voter fundamentalism, which suggests that low fundamentalists will display the secularism and JFK effects whereas high fundamentalists will display the religiosity and deviant effects; 6) the controversial issue effect, which suggests that, since secularism is a controversial issue, neither secular nor nonsecular candidates will be supported more than a candidate who says nothing about secularism; and 7) the relative amount of information effect, which suggests that adding more information about a candidate's issue positions will decrease the relative influence of other issue positions on voters' evaluation of the candidate.

The study employed an experimental design. To manipulate candidate religiosity, the candidate was either described or not described as religious. To manipulate secularism, the candidate was described as favoring policies that endorsed religion-state separation, favoring policies that endorsed religion-state blending, or as not possessing any particular secularism policies. The dependent variables were the likelihood of voters to vote for the candidate, voters' attitude toward the candidate, and perceived competence and integrity of the candidate.

The findings support the religiosity effect and the secularism effect, which was particularly strong among low fundamentalists--an evidence of the moderating effect of voter fundamentalism. The findings also support the controversial issue effect: neither the pro-blending nor the pro-separation candidate was supported more than the candidate who said nothing about secularism. Lastly, the findings support the relative amount of information effect in predicting voting likelihood: presenting information on secularism decreased the relative influence of voters' agreement with the candidates in other issues on their likelihood to vote for the candidates.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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