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Social cues and ideology: Unpacking the adaptive significance of liberal-conservative behavioral differences

  • Jordan Mansell (a1)

Research shows that individuals with liberal and conservative ideological orientations display different value positions concerning the acceptance of social change and inequality. Research also links the expression of different values to a number of biological factors, including heredity. In light of these biological influences, I investigate whether differences in social values associated with liberal and conservative ideologies reflect alternative strategies to maximize returns from social interactions. Using an American sample of Democrats and Republicans, I test whether information about shared and unshared social values in the form of implicit social attitudes have a disproportionate effect on the willingness of Democrats and Republicans to trust an anonymous social partner. I find evidence that knowledge of shared values significantly increases levels of trust among Democrats but not Republicans. I further find that knowledge of unshared values significantly decreases trust among Republicans but not Democrats. These findings are consistent with studies indicating that differences in ideological orientation are linked to differences in cognition and decision-making.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Jordan Mansell, University of Oxford, Department of Politics and International Relations, Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UQ, United Kingdom. Email:
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