This article addresses the psychological dynamics between internal political efficacy, emotions and support for populism. Contrary to the extended idea that populism is associated with low levels of political competence, it is argued that individuals’ self-competence beliefs enhance populist attitudes. Individuals who conceive themselves as able to understand and participate effectively in politics are more critical towards politicians and more prone to consider that citizens could do a better job. The article also hypothesises that internal efficacy enhances the likelihood of experiencing anger, which in turn promotes populist attitudes. Experimental and comparative observational evidence shows robust direct effects of internal efficacy over populism, as well as a smaller indirect impact via feelings of anger. These findings raise important questions regarding the nature of populism and how to fight it in our emancipated and information-intensive democratic systems.
- internal political efficacy