Do liberals value emotion more than conservatives? Political partisanship and Lay beliefs about the functionality of emotion Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractRelying on feelings to guide thoughts and plans may be functional from the perspective of the individual but threaten the cohesion of social groups. Thus, liberals, who prioritize caring and fairness for individuals, may view emotion as more functional than do conservatives, who prioritize preserving social groups, hierarchies, and institutions. To test this, participants in three studies (total N=1,355) rated political partisanship, beliefs about the functionality of emotion, and well-being. Study 3 also assessed how much participants prioritized individualizing versus socially binding values (Graham et al., 2011). Across all studies, the more liberal participants were, the more they viewed emotion as functional, despite reporting less emotional well-being. In Study 3, the link between liberalism and valuing emotion was mediated by more liberal participants greater endorsement of individualizing than socially binding values. These results suggest that emotion is viewed as more functional by those who prioritize the needs of individuals, but as less functional by those who prioritize the cohesion of social groups.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Choi, M., Karnaze, M., Lench, H., & Levine, L.

complete list of authors

  • Choi, Minyoung||Karnaze, Melissa MM||Lench, Heather CC||Levine, Linda JJ

publication date

  • December 2022