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Are Cultural and Economic Conservatism Positively Correlated? A Large-Scale Cross-National Test

  • Ariel Malka, Yphtach Lelkes and Christopher J. Soto


The right–left dimension is ubiquitous in politics, but prior perspectives provide conflicting accounts of whether cultural and economic attitudes are typically aligned on this dimension within mass publics around the world. Using survey data from ninety-nine nations, this study finds not only that right–left attitude organization is uncommon, but that it is more common for culturally and economically right-wing attitudes to correlate negatively with each other, an attitude structure reflecting a contrast between desires for cultural and economic protection vs. freedom. This article examines where, among whom and why protection–freedom attitude organization outweighs right–left attitude organization, and discusses the implications for the psychological bases of ideology, quality of democratic representation and the rise of extreme right politics in the West.

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Department of Psychology, Yeshiva University (email:; Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania (email:; Department of Psychology, Colby College (email: Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: doi:10.7910/DVN/ROAUMD and online appendices are available at



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