The sullivan effect

Jon Hurwitz, Mark Peffley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


John Sullivan’s research and mentorship have guided our work in ways too numerous to mention. Here, we focus on four foundational ideas that have influenced nearly everything we have done. First, Sullivan was one of the leading scholars to dispute the Michigan paradigm of ideological bankruptcy, inspiring us early in our careers to search for hierarchically structured mass belief systems-even in domains (e.g., foreign policy) where public attitudes were assumed to be random. Second, his content controlled measure of political tolerance demonstrated that perceptions of groups are consequential, leading us to explore the impact of interracial perceptions on judgments of fairness in the criminal justice system. Third, Sullivan’s work on political tolerance underscored both the impact of general predispositions and the importance of environmental influences such as sources of new information in the form of group threats, source cues, and persuasive arguments that move some people from tolerance to intolerance or the reverse. This orientation prompted us to think more broadly about how people use available information to form judgments in the justice domain. Finally, Sullivan examined tolerance judgments in widely different contexts, inspiring us to extend our work to determine whether Americans apply the same reasoning process when confronted with different target groups in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAt the Forefront of Political Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of John L. Sullivan
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000768138
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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