At the Ballot Box: Are You a Political Extremist?

Election Day 2014 arrives at a time of extreme political division in the U.S., and moderates of both parties are worried about the fringe. It’s always the case, and especially in mid-term elections, that extremists in their zeal will vote and canvas and rally their troops, while moderates will disengage and stay home.

But who are these extremists really? Some dismiss citizens with extremely strong political opinions as rigid and dogmatic, intolerant of ambiguity and fearful of uncertainty and change. And it’s certainly not hard to find examples of such overzealous–even loony–extremism on the political stage today. Yet others claim that those on the extremes are actually savvy political consumers, engaged and well-informed. Their apparent arrogance is merely confidence, based on deep immersion in the issues. In this view, moderates are the ones who are disconnected from political life, lacking energy and conviction.

So which is it? Unthinking follower, or thoughtful and engaged citizen? Both stereotypes cannot be true. What actually goes on in the mind of a political zealot?

Three psychological scientists have been studying these important questions, trying to plumb the minds of both moderates and extremists. Mark Brandt and Anthony Evans of Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, and Jarret Crawford —> Read More Here


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