Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science, MA

Committee Chair

Enders, Adam

Committee Member

Merry, Melissa

Committee Member

Austin, Mark

Author's Keywords

political science; attitudes; nostalgia; rurality; authoritarianism; partisanship


There are many discussions about why rural and urban Americans exhibit different attitudes about politics, partisan loyalties, and ideologies. Some of these differences can be explained by psychological processes and traits. People act differently and influence (or are influenced by) political processes differently based on their perceptions of and emotions regarding the past, present, and future states of the world. The same is true with rural and urban Americans. This research will investigate the effects of one potent emotion on political attitudes: nostalgia. Prior research has indicated that political nostalgia can be harnessed as a strong political tool. This thesis is focused on teasing out whether rural and urban Americans exhibit different magnitudes of political nostalgia. This is important because it might help explain why these two groups of people respond to different political stimuli and associate with different political groups. For exploratory purposes, this study will also analyze nostalgia’s relationship with partisanship, victimhood, and left- and right-wing authoritarianism. The results of my unique survey instrument indicate that Americans are a very nostalgic people across all demographics. Regression analysis showed that there is a weak relationship between rurality and nostalgia, likely due to the relationship being conditional on partisanship. Nostalgia vi also shares a positive and statistically significant relationship with partisanship, victimhood, and right-wing authoritarianism. These results indicate the ubiquity of political nostalgia across many different attitudes and demographics.