Politicization during the 2012 US presidential elections: Bridging the personal and the political through an identity content approach

Felicity Turner-Zwinkels, Martijn van Zomeren, Tom Postmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated U.S. citizens’ politicization (i.e., switching from not self-defining to self-defining as an active political party
supporter) during the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections. We used a novel identity content approach to explore qualitative
changes in overlap between personal and politicized identity traits. We collected longitudinal data from a community sample of U.S. citizens (N = 760), tracking whether and how personal and politicized identity content developed: two months before (T1), immediately before (T2), and 2 months after (T3) the election. We explored a subsample of participants who met inclusion criteria (n = 115), comparing 87 participants who did not politicize with 28 participants who self-labeled as unpoliticized at T1, but politicized at T2/T3. Results confirmed hypotheses: Only politicizers showed greater integration between their personal and politicized identity content over time; moreover, identity content was a significant positive predictor of politicization and action engagement. We discuss the value of identity content for politicization research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-445
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • politicization
  • collective action
  • elections
  • identity content
  • identification

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