Shanto Iyengar will be speaking to the American Politics Workshop on the topic “Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Measures of Polarization.” The talk is co-sponsored by Communication Studies.Iyengar holds a joint appointment as the Harry and Norman Chandler Chair in Communication and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. Iyengar is also a senior fellow (by courtesy) at the Hoover Institution.Abstract:When defined in terms of social identity and affect toward in- and out-groups, the polarization of the American electorate has clearly increased. We document the scope and consequences of affective polarization using implicit, explicit, and behavioral indicators. Our evidence demonstrates not only that hostile feelings for the out-party are ingrained or automatic in voters’ psyches, but also that affective polarization based on party surpasses polarization based on race and other social cleavages. After documenting the extent of implicit party polarization, we show that party cues exert powerful effects on non-political judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against out partisans, and do so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race. In concluding, we note that heightened partisan affect and the intrusion of partisan bias into non-political domains means that American parties now resemble the model of the “mass membership” party.
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