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On the Varieties of National Attachment: Blind Versus Constructive Patriotism

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Two studies explored a theoretical distinction between “blind” and “constructive” patriotism. Blind patriotism is defined as an attachment to country characterized by unquestioning positive evaluation, staunch allegiance, and intolerance of criticism. Constructive patriotism is defined as an attachment to country characterized by support for questioning and criticism of current group practices that are intended to result in positive change. Items designed to investigate these dimensions of national attachment were administered to two groups of undergraduates in separate surveys. Measures of the two constructs derived from factor analysis of the responses proved to be reliable and valid. Blind patriotism was positively associated with political disengagement, nationalism, perceptions of foreign threat, perceived importance of symbolic behaviors, and selective exposure to pro-U.S. information. In contrast, constructive patriotism was positively associated with multiple indicators of political involvement, including political efficacy, interest, knowledge, and behavior. The implications of this distinction for theory and research on patriotism are discussed.
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Keywords: Patriotism; criticism; national symbols; nationalism; political involvement; selective exposure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 3: State University of New York at Stony Brook

Publication date: March 1, 1999

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