National attitudes and reactions to conflict: exploration of the role of differences in cognitive functioning1
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The paper presents a first test of a hypothesis that differences in inter-group consequences of patriotism and nationalism may be mediated by underlying differences in cognitive functioning. In a study conducted amongst Warsaw students, in a period proceeding Polish accession to the European Union, we tested relationships between types of national attachments, cognitive-motivational variables (need for cognitive closure and involvement in information gathering), and preferences for action in the conflict between supporters and opponents of European integration. The results indicate that although higher need for closure underlies nationalism, it is not this relationship that is responsible for a tendency to avoid cooperation and to choose coercion associated with nationalism. Higher level of nationalism was predicted both by higher need for closure and higher patriotism. The analyses revealed an indirect effect of patriotism on a tendency to avoid cooperation and choose coercion in conflict that was mediated through nationalism. However, net of the common variance with nationalism, stronger patriotism predicted more involvement in the gathering of neutral information about European integration and related conflict, which in turn mediated patriotism's effect on a choice of cooperation in the conflict.
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