Individualism is a fundamental value to U.S. culture and democracy. We differentiate the horizontal from vertical dimension of individualism to predict voting in the 2004 presidential election. Horizontal individualism (HI) values equality and uniqueness, whereas vertical individualism (VI) values competition and achievement. In line with the value-expressive function of attitudes and voter-politician congruency principles, we show how and when HI and VI affect voters' attitudes and voting. A pilot study revealed that VI correlated with vote; those who scored higher on VI were more likely to vote for Bush. Study 1 replicated these findings with a broader sample and a regression approach. The influence of individualism was less predictive than VI in both studies. In Study 2, we proposed that the effect of VI and HI values on voting decisions is mediated by political conservatism, which in turn predicts voters' trait assessment of candidates and voting decision. Path analysis of the data from a national survey supported our expectation among respondents with high political involvement, the context in which value-expressive attitudes are more pronounced. Taken together, these studies advance our theoretical understanding of HI, VI, and individualism, as well as the process underlying the effect of values on decisions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology