UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Know you, no me : people seek others' political leanings but withhold their own in first encounters Thomas, Irein Ann


In a first conversation with a stranger, people choose what information they want to seek from others and reveal about themselves. How do they make these choices with political information? One guiding factor might be how much political identity represents the true self, who someone really is. The true self has moral content, and because peoples’ political identity unveils their moral worldview, people might use political identity to understand others’ true self. A first between-subjects study (N = 187, 1122 observations) found that people thought political identities, compared to other identities (e.g., religion, occupation, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity), was the most representative of the true self. Study 2 (N = 217, 868 observations) replicated Study 1’s findings using a relationship app context: people chose to both seek others’ politics and reveal their own politics more on the app when they prioritized the true self (vs. superficial self). Study 3 (N = 111, 1539 observations) found that people preferred to seek others’ politics (to know others’ true self) more than reveal their own politics (to not reveal their own true self) in a first conversation. Study 4 (N = 592 participants, 5920 observations) established that the true self is the mechanism underlying the asymmetrical political information exchange in first encounters—when people see a true self prompt (vs. a superficial self prompt vs. no-prompt) on a relationship app, they reveal more political information. We discuss implications and future directions.

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