Distinguished Master's Thesis Award
2017 Robert and Kathryn Augustine
Distinguished Master's Thesis Award Winner
Matthew Cain, Master of Science in Political Science, earned EIU's top research honor for his master's thesis titled, Political Intolerance in the 21st Century: The Ideology and Emotion in Determining Intolerant Judgments.
Melinda Mueller, Ph.D., professor of political science served as the faculty mentor.
The award is named for, and supported by, former dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Robert Augustine, and his wife, Kathy, an EIU alumna.
Decades of research in Social Psychology have demonstrated that political intolerance is not displayed equally with respect to ideology. In particular, conservatives and those with right- wing beliefs are much more likely to display intolerant judgments than those with liberal or left- wing beliefs. This “prejudice gap” has been found to be so ubiquitous that it is now the conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between ideology and intolerance. However, a small, but growing literature challenges this presumed ideological asymmetry and has instead found that liberals and conservatives display intolerance under certain circumstances. Synthesizing the recent research showing ideological symmetry in intolerance judgments, the Ideological-Conflict Hypothesis (ICH) was developed. This thesis attempts to expand the literature on the ICH by integrating it with multidimensional models of ideology and the growing literature on negative emotions. The findings of this analysis support the general assertion made by the ICH, but also challenges its utility when predicted by multidimensional models of ideology. Additionally, the analysis shows the crucial role of an understudied emotion in determining political intolerance: hatred. The analysis thus challenges scholars to better integrate the findings of the ICH with more complete models of ideology, while expanding the research of emotional effects on intolerance to include hatred.