Katarzyna Jaśko & Małgorzata Kossowska
Institute of Psychology, Jagiellonian University
The goal of the present research was to identify ways in which people understand the concept of democracy. The second goal was to find out to what extent accepted values can predict understanding of the concept of democracy. It was expected that different values should be associated with differences in meanings ascribed to democracy. These hypotheses were tested with a sample of young people and adults moderately interested in politics, and with young people engaged in political parties. The results were generally consistent with expectations. First, it was found that people revealed differences in understanding of the concept of democracy. The most popular was the concept that referred to normative features of democracy. The remaining two meanings of democracy were: identification of democracy with a welfare state, and with nationalistic and authoritarian rules. Values were found to be related to the accepted meaning of democracy: some values (e.g., Tradition, Egalitarianism) had more effect on political thinking than others (e.g., Hedonism). The relationship between values and the way participants understood democracy turned out to be moderated by the level of engagement in politics.
Keywords: political knowledge, democracy, values
Cite this article as:
Jaśko, K., Kossowska, M. (2008). Values and understanding of the concept of democracy. Psychologia Społeczna, 8, 243-257.