Skip to main content

The Psychology of Euroscepticism and Brexit Preferences: The Role of Social Attitudes and Implications for National Identification

Peitz, Linus (2020) The Psychology of Euroscepticism and Brexit Preferences: The Role of Social Attitudes and Implications for National Identification. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:84834)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only until November 2023.

Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of 65peitz2020phdfinal.pdf]


Discussions about supporting vs. rejecting European supranational governance (i.e., Euroscepticism) have been dominating national conversations for several years in Europe. Although political scientists have written extensively about Euroscepticism, surprisingly little is known about citizens' attitudes towards the general political principles of supranational governance (i.e., supranationalism) that underpin institutions such as the European Union (EU). Addressing this gap, this thesis focusses on the psychology of supranationalism and the psychological implications of events such as Brexit. Specifically, this thesis investigated the psychological factors that relate to opposition to supranational governance, and how it contributes to Euroscepticism and Brexit preferences. Furthermore, this thesis investigated how the unprecedented rejection of European supranational governance (i.e., Brexit) related to British voters' national identities. Chapter 2 reports two cross-sectional studies conducted in the UK that introduced a novel measure of supranationalism and established its psychometric properties and ideological correlates (right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation). Furthermore, supranationalism significantly predicted voters' EU attitudes and Brexit preferences, while controlling for established factors such as national identification and immigration concerns. A third study, reported in chapter 3, replicated these results with samples from the UK, Germany, and Belgium, and showed that supranationalism is relevant to Euroscepticism in- and outside of the UK. Chapter 4 turns attention to the implications of Euroscepticism in the UK and investigated the impact of two anti-EU elections on voters' national identities in three longitudinal studies. Specifically, Studies 4 and 5 showed that electoral losers dis-identified and became more estranged from their country after Brexit in 2016. Study 6 replicated these findings during the Brexit-election in 2019, and further showed that the looming threat of Brexit and voters' inability to influence the political course, were key factors explaining dis-identification and estrangement effects which were stronger among political liberals across all three studies. Overall, this thesis illustrates how Euroscepticism draws on right-wing social attitudes and represents a particular challenge to people on the political left.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Dhont, Kristof
Thesis advisor: Seyd, Ben
Uncontrolled keywords: Euroscepticism, Brexit, National Identities, Supranationalism, Political Ideology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2020 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):