A multiple values model of political tolerance

Mark Peffley, Pia Knigge, Jon Hurwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


While students of political tolerance often view tolerance decisions as a trade-off between opposing values (civil liberties versus other values), there have been few explicit attempts to formulate and test such a multiple-values model. With rare exception, researchers typically examine linkages between tolerance judgments and a single value constellation (civil liberties or general norms of democracy) without examining directly the way people rank competing values. In this essay, we use data from a national telephone survey to test a model of how various value trade-off measures (e.g., value conflict) influence citizens' initial tolerance decisions, as well as their willingness to stick to that judgment in the face of counter-arguments (i.e., the pliability of the initial baseline judgment). We find that while value conflict is often associated with greater political forbearance of disliked groups (e.g., the Klan, flag burners), greater conflict also makes individuals more susceptible to counter-arguments. We also find that when people are presented with roughly equal counter-arguments, the tolerant are much more willing to abandon their initial judgment than the intolerant. We conclude with a discussion of the broader implications of our findings for the study of political tolerance and political values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-406
Number of pages28
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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