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Sowing Patriotism, But Reaping Nationalism? Consequences of Exposure to the American Flag

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The American flag is a frequently displayed national symbol in the United States. Given its high visibility and importance, the present research examines the consequences of exposure to the flag on Americans' sense of national attachment. We hypothesized that the flag would increase patriotism, defined as love and commitment to one's country, and nationalism, defined as a sense of superiority over others. Two experimental studies supported the idea that the American flag increased nationalism, but not necessarily patriotism. The discussion focuses on the practices surrounding the American flag and its implications for the reproduction of American national identity.
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Keywords: American flag; Authoritarianism; Cultural reproduction; Nationalism; Patriotism; Priming; Social dominance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Nevada 2: University of Michigan

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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