Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus


Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lucian Gideon Conway

Commitee Members

Daniel J. Denis, Rachel Severson, Allen Szalda-Petree, Laurie Yung


Non-conscious perception, political ideology formation, temporal orientation


University of Montana


Research in motivation suggests that individuals are highly attuned to perceived risk and danger and tend to form groups (physical and ideological) on the basis of the threats they collectively share with like-minded others. These initial stages of threat detection and evaluation are often found to occur through subtle environmental cues. This study examined the relationship between feelings of uneasiness and political ideology through the framing of temporal cues (e.g., past- vs. future-tense). Participants (n = 181) were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) and were randomly assigned a short vignette about a relatable life experience (e.g., purchasing a car). Each vignette was written in either the past-tense or the future-tense, and after reading the vignette, participants reported their emotional response to the presented scenario (e.g., “If I were in the scenario, I would feel uneasy.”) using a Likert-type scale. Participants’ levels of ideological conservatism were then measured. Counter to expectations, a negative interaction was found between ideological conservatism and temporal condition on uneasiness: Conservatives experienced more uneasiness when exposed to past-tense scenarios while liberals experienced more uneasiness when exposed to future-tense scenarios. However, partially consistent with expectations, conservatives’ uneasiness was partially mediated by forecasted (but not observed) risk. Implications, limitations, and possible future directions for the research are discussed.



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