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Abortion attitudes: An overview of demographic and ideological differences

Osborne, Danny, Huang, Yanshu, Overall, Nickola C., Sutton, Robbie M., Petterson, Aino, Douglas, Karen, Davies, Paul, Sibley, Chris G. (2022) Abortion attitudes: An overview of demographic and ideological differences. Advances in Political Psychology, . ISSN 1479-0661. (doi:10.1111/pops.12803) (KAR id:93617)

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Despite being a defining issue in the culture war, the relative importance of the psychological predictors of abortion attitudes are poorly understood. We address this oversight here by reviewing existing findings and providing new evidence for the demographic and ideological correlates of abortion support. Throughout our review, we integrate new analyses of several large-scale, cross-sectional, and longitudinal datasets to provide the most complete empirical examination of abortion attitudes to date. Our review and new analyses indicate that abortion support is increasing (modestly) over time in both the US and New Zealand. We also show that a plurality of respondents (43.8%) in the US indicate that they are “pro-choice” across various elective and traumatic scenarios, whereas only 14.8% report being consistently “pro-life” regardless of why an abortion is sought. Our review and new integrative analyses then demonstrate that age, religiosity, and conservatism correlate negatively, whereas Openness to Experience correlates positively, with abortion support. New analyses of heterosexual couples also reveal that women’s and men’s religiosity uniquely decreases their romantic partner’s abortion support. Finally, noting inconsistent gender differences in abortion support, we review evidence for the impact of traditional gender role attitudes and sexism on abortion support. Our review and theoretical analyses illustrate that, rather than misogyny, benevolent sexism—the belief that women should be cherished and protected—best explains abortion opposition. We conclude that demographic and ideological variables, along with attitudes that revere women and motherhood, continue to undermine women’s interpersonal, intergroup, and societal rights.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/pops.12803
Uncontrolled keywords: Abortion; partisanship; ideology; religiosity; benevolent sexism; interpersonal relations; reproductive rights; reproductive autonomy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Karen Douglas
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2022 12:54 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2022 17:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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