Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Erin Buchanan


This study examined the potential for a predictive relationship between political conservatism and change detection. Research on the visual system has revealed a general tendency to overlook changes in a stationary scene when two versions are displayed alternately with a masking slide, known as the flicker paradigm. We examined whether political conservatism and various related measures predicted whether and how quickly changes were detected during a flicker paradigm task. Measures of interest were conservatism as measured by the Social and Economic Conservatism scale, openness as measured by the short form of the Big Five Inventory, authoritarianism as measured by the Right-Wing Authoritarianism scale, political party, and a single bipolar conservatism scale. Despite predictions that greater conservatism and authoritarianism would shorten response latencies, analysis of a sample collected online indicated that authoritarianism appeared to lengthen the time to identify change, while social conservatism showed the expected relationship. This pattern failed to appear in a student sample. Openness and other forms of conservatism did not demonstrate reliable significant predictive relationships with response latencies. The finding that highly correlated factors (social conservatism, authoritarianism) predicted response latencies in opposing directions, combined with the failure to replicate that pattern in a student sample, indicates that the relationship between conservatism and response latencies may be more complicated than initially thought.


ideology, politics, political, personality, openness, authoritarianism, right-wing authoritarianism, change blindness, flicker, flicker paradigm, big five, BFI, SECS, RWA, conservatism, liberalism, visual change

Subject Categories



© Jahnavi Rose Delmonico

Open Access

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Psychology Commons