Political ideology and social categorization

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Social categorization, the process of mentally placing others into a group, is a universal aspect of daily life. Researchers have long been interested in understanding the consequences of social categorization and have more recently turned their attention to determining the processes of how people categorize others into social groups. In this chapter, I present the efficient categorization framework (ECF), which integrates research in social cognition and political psychology to understand the role of a perceiver's political ideology (i.e., whether a person is more liberal or conservative) in social categorization processes. The ECF proposes that political conservatives prioritize efficient categorization—expending few cognitive resources to make a correct judgment—more so than do liberals. Drawing from this framework, I review evidence indicating that liberals and conservatives diverge in their beliefs about which strategies contribute to accurate social category judgments, as well as how they process available cues during social categorization. I also outline findings that highlight how ideological differences in the social categorization process contribute to evaluations, policy attitudes, and political behaviors. I discuss how the ECF gives novel insight into variability in social categorization processes and offers unique perspective into why liberals and conservatives commonly fail to see “eye-to-eye” in their perceptions of the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances In Experimental Social Psychology
EditorsBertram Gawronski
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages67
ISBN (Print)9780323990783
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
ISSN (Print)0065-2601


  • Efficiency
  • Political ideology
  • Political psychology
  • Social categorization
  • Social cognition
  • Social judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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