[MS] Attitudes Towards Political Participation: An experiment on the Interplay between Conservatism and Context by Flavio Azevedo

For decades, traditional forms of political participation have been shrinking in developed countries, as if governments were naturally democratic or warranted against authoritarian retrogression. But democratic governance is neither a natural state of power-sharing nor guaranteed to endure. Incidentally, as governments draw their legitimacy from the vested power in voting – and from a normative perspective, as civic engagement decreases so does a government’s power. This notion is still relevant today because established democracies consistently observe their electoral turnout eroding while skepticism and distrust toward the political processes become commonplace. The concern is that a progressively alienated population could, even if inadvertently, instigate democracies to capitulate to more robust forms of power assertion. This study attempts to contribute to this debate by investigating how attitudes towards political participation change as a function of situational (context) and dispositional factors (conservatism). For this, a scale was devised to gauge attitudes towards two different types of political participation: participative, wherein the individual and all of society is engaged vs. restrictive, wherein representative/elites are engaged in the name of society. A pretest-posttest control-group experiment with 202 participants assessed the interplay of context and conservatism in predicting shifts in attitudinal political participation. Results show a significant interaction eliciting an asymmetric effect of context and conservatism on the voters’ attitudes towards participation, while conservatives in negative and uncertain contexts increase endorsement for restrictive participation the opposite is observed for their ideological counterparts. Findings complement the literature by providing in-depth psychological explanations underlying voters’ decision to participate politically.

[Dissertation of Master of Science in Social Psychology at Leiden University]

[MS] The Volatility of Political Choices: The Role of Conservatism and Context by Flavio Azevedo

In the last decades, the far right’s increasing political clout in numerous western societies has become subject of international concern – especially after 2008 protracted global economic crisis. In order to gain insight into this socio-political phenomenon, the present article sets out to investigate the interplay between situational and dispositional factors affecting political choices. Specifically, does the perception of environmental cues and one’s conservatism interact in determining the volatility of one’s political choices? To answer this question, 202 participants took part in a pretest-posttest control group experiment, wherein environmental cues were manipulated as to elicit negative, uncertain and positive perceptions of contexts. Results show that when context is perceived as positive ensuing political choices become more stable while uncertain and negative perceptions were associated with increasing volatile choices. Moreover, conservatism was shown to moderate the de-stabilizing effects of negative and uncertain contexts on the stability of political choices, which is to say, across different contexts the more conservative one is, the more stable one’s political choices. These results seem to suggest that the electoral success of far-right parties can be explained, at least in part, by an asymmetric effect of environmental cues (or situational evaluation) on the voters’ motivations to maintain political choices, from which non-conservatives seem to be particularly afflicted. Findings complement the literature by providing political-psychological explanations as to why the far-right rises during periods of societal crisis.

[Dissertation of Master of Science in Social Psychology at Leiden University]

[MS] An empirical study on the principles of indivisibility and interdependence by Flavio Azevedo


In this article, I set out to investigate the extent to which the contemporary debate about the indivisibility principle has translated into in tandem state respect for the historically separated set of rights, i.e. Civil & Political rights and Social, Economic and Cultural rights. Adapting and expanding on the ideas and methods proposed by Minkler, while using data collected by both CIRI and SERF, an empirical method is provided for the evaluation of states’ adhesion to the principle of indivisibility. It is done via a series of numerical techniques which were able to produce global, regional and country-specific longitudinal profiles of respect for each set of human rights. Additionally, an investigation is carried out to examine the extent to which human rights are in practice interdependent. In doing so, a bird’s-eye view analysis of states’ respect for human rights is provided. Results show that states’ practices in terms of upholding civil & political rights and fulfilling economic & social rights are neither frequently exercised, nor reveal any sort of dependence or reinforcing characteristic. Interestingly, is the finding that while civil & political rights are especially vulnerable worldwide, states that prioritized this set of rights, as opposed to prioritize economic & social rights, are shown to be committed to respecting both sets of rights – thus respecting the indivisibility principle. The opposite, however, does not hold true. Finally, the pertinence and applications of the proposed methods and findings are discussed.

[Dissertation of Master of Science in Political Science at Leiden University]

[Stage: adapting M.Sc. manuscript for submission - eventually] 

[PgC] Human rights in a realist world: How power dictates progress by Flavio Azevedo


The notion that the interests of the most powerful are the leading force in moderating global politics belittles the ideal of an international community. Yet, this is the first lesson of realpolitiek and a resilient modus operandi in today’s international relations. The emergence of human rights discourse and international human rights regimes was not an anticipated phenomenon. Amartya Sen suggests that the urgency to act and quickly respond to worldwide appalling deprivations, hunger and oppression in World War II was more important than developing conceptual and/or theoretical justification.  But international consensus were short lived and only lasted for a few years. With the onset of the Cold War, rhetoric and power gave rise to international cleavages and 'versions' of human rights. This is the setting in which human rights reside, between 'how the world is' and 'how it should be'.

[Dissertation for Post-Graduate Diploma at Geneva University]

[BS] Analysing systemic segregation in Bosnian schools by Flavio Azevedo


The importance of education in developing societies after a conflict is absolute. With a great deal of general support of how schools can be either a conduit for or an inhibitor to reconciling communities, it is important to look at the policies and their implications in such regions. Furthermore, where young people from different communities are segregated either by de facto conditions or mandate, international laws related to human rights in education are possibly being violated. To justify these arguments, this paper is divided into three major sections: a scientific review of education in divided societies, the legal implications of dividing education and an explanation of the importance of reviewing the 'Two Schools under One Roof' policy for divided schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Published Article

[Dissertation of Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Coimbra University]