Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Fall 10-8-2018


Berggren, J. A. 2018. Superheroes, Safety, and Social Policy: Induced Levels of Physical Security may Produce Greater Liberal Policy Preferences. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Jacob Berggren 2018.


Preferences for conservative policies are thought to be, at least in part, the result of experiencing a more threatening world, and consequentially preferring to avoid, rather than approach, new information or situations (Hibbing, Alford & Smith, 2014; Jost, Federico, & Napier, 2013; Shook & Fazio 2009). In addition to explaining how policy attitudes may be formed, this recent research has helped to explain why attitudes may be more responsive to external influences (or manipulations) than previously thought, especially in regard to political attitudes such as ideology and partisanship. Therefore, as feelings of safety are increased, and feelings of threat are decreased, individuals' policy preferences may become less conservative. This study examines the relationship between economic & social policy attitudes, ideology, and feelings of safety. In order to explore this, we replicated Study 1 conducted by Napier and colleagues (2017), which demonstrated that when conservative individuals imagined a scenario in which they were invincible, and consequently felt physically safe, this increased their liberalism on social policy preferences. We find that while the manipulation successfully increased feelings of physical safety, this resulted in no significant effect on political attitudes for either Republicans or Democrats. This research demonstrates the importance of further exploration into the relationship of safety, rather than threat, and political attitudes.