ERIC Number: ED187646
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1976-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Political Disenchantment: A Cognitive-Perceptual Theory of Political Alienation.
An investigation of a cognitive-perceptual model to measure adolescents' feelings of political alienation is reported. The model hypothesizes that fundamental to the political alienation process is a feared actual or potential loss of freedom; this process is called psychological reactance. The sample consisted of 460 senior high school students who responded to a self-administered questionnaire. Measures included political incapability, discontentment, cynicism, and estrangement scales. Results indicated that adolescents express feelings of both political sensitivity and political reactance. The feelings of political threat tended to appear among all adolescents surveyed regardless of their demographic characteristics. Also, it was confirmed that political sensitivity contributes to political reactance which in turn contributes to political alienation. Specifically, political threats which relate to future expectations of well-being and economic satisfaction were most prone to foster feelings of alienation. The reactance theory predicts that when freedom is perceived as threatened or lost, a person should strive to restore or protect it. However, according to the learned helplessness model (see SO 012630), the process terminates at the point of perceived loss of threat to freedom because adolescents have never expected to exert control over the sociopolitical system. This factor may explain the passivity of American youth over the past decade. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Yale Univ., New Haven, CT.
Note: For a related document, see SO 012 630. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Political Science Association (Dallas, TX, April 7-10, 1976).