S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Dept. of Political of Political Sciences and International Relations (정치외교학부) Political Science (정치학전공) Theses (Master's Degree_정치학전공)
Emotions in Political Attitudes: Long-held Partisanship, Compassionate Anger, and Self-regarding Anxiety in the Korean Public Opinion
정치태도의 감정적 토대: 한국 대중여론에서 장기적 당파심, 공감적 분노, 개인적 불안감의 정치적 의미
- 사회과학대학 정치외교학부
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 정치외교학부 정치학전공, 2015. 8. 박원호.
- This study aims to understand the political significance of emotions in political attitudes in the context of South Korea. Against the popular notion of democratic citizenship in which emotions are marginalized while intellect and knowledge are emphasized, this study proposes that emotions can be the central route through which citizens interact with political discourses and contexts to shape their political attitudes. The findings of this study shed light on the political relevance of emotions, which has been overlooked in the public opinion studies of South Korea for a long time.
The results of the survey experiment on fifteen social issues highlight the political significance of emotions with the following implications. First, through the experimental survey with partisanship cues, it is found that party identification, the long-held emotional attachment to political parties, serves as a structural background of political attitudes on which individuals accept or reject elite discourses and accordingly determine their own opinions, rather than randomly or uncritically accepting all types of elite discourse. The mobilizing effect of elite discourse can be either substantial or negligible depending on individual citizens’ partisanship, the partisan cleavage shaped around the issue, and the issue salience. These findings imply that partisanship might contribute to the democratic process as a solid basis of political attitudes.
Second, on the issues that are applied with compassion cues, it is found that compassionate anger toward social injustice or hardships of others encourages individuals to be more attentive to the given message and to more actively reflect it on their political attitudes. When compassionate anger is triggered, people show higher tendency to accept the alternative viewpoint that is in conflict with their initial preference, which implies the conducive role of emotions in promoting tolerance for different opinions. Furthermore, especially on the issues that are closely related to specific political symbols, compassionate anger strengthens the connection between policy preference and preexisting political predisposition such as ideology, which suggests another way of how emotions come to have political relevance in mass opinion.
Lastly, when self-regarding anxiety is triggered by neighborhood cues, the linkage between personal life and political agenda is strengthened in citizens’ minds, as it is manifested on their expressed opinions. While it has been claimed in the previous studies that personal interest has minimal impact on political attitudes because citizens perceive political issues as abstract and distant from their own lives, the results of this study indicate that self-regarding anxiety, triggered by the localization of issues, significantly alters individuals’ opinions in accordance with self-regarding anxiety about their expected personal consequences. These findings imply that citizens form their political attitudes based on the reasonable considerations for personal conditions through self-regarding anxiety.
Despite the substantial difficulty of studying emotions due to their impalpable nature, this study contributes to the political science scholarship of South Korea as an initial attempt to empirically demonstrate the political relevance of a wide range of emotions in diverse social contexts. Rather than being a disruptive or inconsequential component of political attitudes, this study suggests that emotions can encourage citizens to more actively engage in political affairs in the following ways: first, the measured responses to elite discourses based on partisan attachment
second, the active consideration of relevant information and the tolerance for differing opinions encouraged by compassionate anger
and lastly, the intimate connection between the political issues and their own lives fostered by self-regarding anxiety. Through these findings, I wish that this study would be a watershed in the public opinion studies of South Korea as the first serious attempt to include emotions as the central research agenda in our pursuit to understand political thoughts and behaviors of the mass public.