A new study shows that people with low self-esteem and less sense of control over their lives are more likely to blame politics for their own personal problems.
The study was published May 2 in of American Politics Research magazine.
Blame personal problems in politics
The idea that some people are more likely than others to blame for their political systems personal problems is not obvious. For example, most previous research has indeed shown that people judge elected politicians based on ideology and values rather than their own socioeconomic status.
This is how researchers Vanessa Baird and Jennifer Wolak from the University of Colorado Boulder wanted to find out if and why some People think differently.
To examine this question, they used data from the 2016 version of the Cooperative Election Study (then known as the Cooperative Congressional Election Study). This is an annual national survey conducted by research firm YouGov. For this particular study, respondents consisted of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adult residents of the United States.
Assessment of Guilt: One in Four Blames Politics
The researchers first asked participants how much they agreed or disagreed (on a scale from 1 to 7) with the statement “I believe that the problems in my life are caused by the problems in our political system”. About 51% said they disagreed, about 25% agreed, and the other quarter neither agreed nor disagreed.
This result is consistent with previous studies that found that “most people ‘ don’t blame the political system for their personal problems.
But it also shows that about a quarter of the population actually blames politics for their personal problems. Why could that be? And what separates these people from the other three-quarters of the population?
Measuring one’s sense of control and self-esteem
One factor the researchers will have measured referred to as the “place of control”. It indicates how strongly a person believes they can handle the challenges they face in their personal life. To measure this trait, the researchers asked participants to respond (again on a scale of 1 to 7) to the statement, “I feel that the problems in my life are completely beyond my control.” The researchers also measured participants’ self-esteem.
Results: locus of control and blaming politics for personal problems
They found that differences in personality traits of people are important predictors of why some people blame the political system for their personal problems and others do not.
Regarding the locus of control, they found that respondents felt they had the least amount of control over it Having Your Life scored a 0.62 on the Government Blame Indicator. On the other hand, people who felt most in control of their lives scored a 0.28, a difference of about a third of the standard deviation.
“People who believe that they are able to control their own future through their efforts and diligence,” the researchers write, “also see their personal challenges as their own responsibility.” But when people don’t believe they have much control over their situation, they are more likely to blame the political system for their personal circumstances.
Self-esteem also predicts the likelihood of blaming politics
They also found that that personal self-esteem also predicts whether people believe their personal struggles are the fault of the political system (or not). Respondents who reported higher self-esteem were more likely to reject the idea that their problems have political roots: those with the highest self-esteem scored 0.37 on the indicator of blaming the government, versus 0.47 for those with the lowest Self-esteem self-esteem, a difference of about one-third of a standard deviation.
“When people have confidence in themselves and their abilities,” the authors write, “they are less likely to view their personal challenges as having political roots.”
Other factors: education, religion, political beliefs and demographics
The researchers also controlled for a number of other factors. For example, they found that people with higher levels of education were less likely to blame the government for their personal problems. “The likelihood of rejecting the idea that personal problems are political in origin also increases with increasing schooling,” the authors write.
In addition, those who scored higher on the level of support for democratic principles were less likely to seek political explanations for their personal problems.And more religious people were also more likely to cite politics as the cause of their personal challenges.
Interestingly, political orientation had very little impact on the results: Democrats and Republicans differed in their likelihood of not seeing their personal problems in based on politics. However, independents were more likely to blame politics than strong partisans.
In terms of demographics, men are more likely than women to say their personal problems are political in origin, and younger people are more likely to do so than older people. There were no differences in terms of ethnicity.
Economic hardship and criminal victimization
Surprisingly, personal economic situation had no bearing on government blame. “Those who have seen their own financial situation deteriorate in recent years,” the study writes, “are no more likely to believe that their problems are political in origin than those who have seen their household finances improve .”
The authors say that this finding lends credence to their hypothesis that political grievances of this kind have more to do with personality traits than with personal financial circumstances.
People who are the victims were slightly more likely to think politics was to blame for their personal problems, but the magnitude of this effect was small.
Understanding why people blame government for their personal problems
These findings may help researchers better understand the origins of people’s political grievances, “and the conditions under which disadvantages to the level of a grievance against the government,” the authors write.
“When people blame the government for their personal challenges, they may have good reasons for doing so,” the study states. But at the same time, these results suggest that “the state is also blamed for problems it did not create.”
This tendency, in turn, helps to explain the sense of distrust and alienation felt by the People stem from frustration with the political system. If people’s grievances result from personal characteristics that the political system cannot change, then perhaps there will always be people who feel politically offended.
In sum, the researchers write, people who believe That their personal challenges are due to politics do not necessarily belong to those who have gone through greater hardships. Instead, “blaming the political system has more to do with people’s personality traits, how they view themselves, and how they control their own future.”
People with low self-esteem are more likely to believe that the Politics is responsible for the difficulties they face, and people who have little control over their lives are more likely to believe these outcomes are intertwined with the political system.
strong> “Why Some Blame Politics for Their Personal Problems”Authors: Vanessa Baird and Jennifer WolakPublished in: American Politics Research.Date of publication: 2 May 2021DOI: 10.1177/1532673X211013463Photo: Lawrence Jackson, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons