Politicization During the 2012 U.S. 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 journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


We investigated US citizens’ politicization (i.e., switching from not self-defining to self-defining as an active political party supporter) during the 2012 US 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 US citizens (N=760), tracking whether and how personal and politicized identity content developed: Two months before (T1), immediately before (T2) and two 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-labelled 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
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number3
Early online date28-Jan-2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2015


  • Politicization
  • Identity content
  • Collective action
  • Elections

Cite this