How We Form Our Political Views

Now, more than ever, politics has begun to play an increasingly visible role in mental health. More and more people are struggling with anxiety, depression, couples problems, and more as a result of their politics and the attention they pay to the news.

But politics isn’t just about morality and beliefs. Many different factors affect how you’ve formed your political opinions. I thought it  might be a good idea to go over some of the different factors that go into creating our political opinions. These include:

  • Upbringing – Perhaps the greatest factor in determining your political opinion is your upbringing. Your parents can help shape your political opinion in two ways. First, their beliefs are often passed on to you, and become a part of your core values. Second, some people perform the opposite – rebelling against a key figure in their lives to form the opposite political views.
  • Religion – Religion has a strong effect on a person’s political beliefs. The effect, however, is triggered by a combination of religious involvement, and in the beliefs of those that lead those congregations.
  • Culture/Peer Influence – Similar to religion, the cultural environment plays a key role. The sense of community people feel affect their mentalities toward others. We know from statistics and identities that black Christians from the south tend to be socially conservative and fiscally liberal. We know from statistics that white atheists from Portland tend to be fiscally and socially liberal. We know from statistics that White farmers from rural Kansas tend to be fiscally and socially conservative. These are formed by the places we are, the people around us, and those we identify with.
  • Current Environment/Status – Many people are willing to vote “against their interests,” but there are a large number of people that form views based on current socioeconomic status. For example, the wealthy may support more tax breaks, the poor may prefer more social spending. Depending on the firmness of people’s beliefs, socioeconomic status can cause changes to political views.
  • Cognitive Dissonance – It’s possible to form political views because of your view of a candidate. For example, if you are socially conservative but identified and voted for a socially liberal candidate, the candidate’s actions could change some of your views, because you know that you supported them and feel as though what they are doing must be right.
  • Media – Finally, media plays an large role in feeding political views. This has become especially true over the last 10 years. Both Facebook and Google use an algorithm that only shows people the news and items they think they want to see, which is why those that are already leaning in a certain direction (for example, Democrat or Republican) will start to only see news that caters to that belief, causing the belief to be further entrenched. The rise of opinion journalism and the easy access to political information also mean that people are consuming their news from less secure sources.

These are some of the factors that go into how we form our political views. For those who have found that politics have been affecting their lives in some way, it helps to understand how they may have developed those political views and what made them so passionate about politics.