How Many Ways to Say Goodbye? The Latent Class Structure and Psychological Correlates of European Union Sentiment in a Large Sample of UK Adults
Gary J. Lewis
Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, United Kingdom
Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Most psychological research on Brexit categorises participants as either leave or remain supporters. In the current study we take a data-driven approach and identify different clusterings of attitudes towards the European Union (EU) using latent class analysis (LCA), as well as how these classes differ across a range of important social and psychological variables. This analysis revealed 10 distinct classes of voters in a large (N = 15860) adult sample of UK citizens using data from the British Election Study. These classes ranged from being quite uniformly pro- or anti-EU in sentiment, to more mixed groups with more complex patterns of attitudes. The classes that included majority-remain supporters were younger and better educated, and self-rated more highly on the measures of actively open-minded thinking, openness, political trust, and external locus of control. The classes that included majority-leave supporters were older and less well educated, and self-rated more highly on the measures of authoritarianism and conscientiousness. However, there were also notable demographic and psychological differences within the classes associated with leavers and remainers. A full consideration of these attitudinal nuances will be necessary to achieve a deeper understanding of why the UK decided to leave the EU.