We investigate how constituents interpret information about political leaders in the course of forming judgments about them. More specifically, we are interested in the intentionality attributed to the actions and decisions taken by political leaders – whether they are perceived as designed to benefit the politician's own interests, or the interests of the public. In two field studies, we show that the political orientation of constituents plays a central role in driving constituents’ judgments about political leaders and their actions (in terms of beneficiary attributions), reflecting an identity-motivated reasoning process. Political leaders of the ingroup are perceived more favorably than political leaders of the outgroup, in terms of trust and a desire to see that leader represent the country in the international arena. More interestingly, constituents are likely to attribute the actions of ingroup leaders as intended to benefit the country (national interests), and the actions of outgroup leaders as intended to benefit the political leaders themselves (egoistic interests).
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- Ingroup favoritism
- Political leaders
- Social identity