The Effect of Learning Affective Polarization

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Selker, Stephanie L.
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In a difficult era of American politics, it is important to understand why tensions are so high and if anything can be done to reduce the vitriol felt in politics today. A major factor contributing to this phenomenon is known as affective polarization, or the increasingly negative feelings or antipathy partisans feel towards each other or towards the opposite group (Iyengar, Sood and Lelkes 2012). The increasing effects of affective polarization are so high that dislike felt between political parties is even greater than that felt between racial or religious groups in the United States (Iyengar, Sood and Lelkes 2012). This study seeks to find a long-lasting solution to reduce these effects through education. By education partisans on the topic of affective polarization, it is hypothesized that the effects of affective polarization will be reduced and that partisans will retain the information learned. Through a panel design consisting of one survey taken both before and after a lecture regarding affective polarization, it was found that one session of education taught partisans about affective polarization but did not decrease their affect. A more representative sample size, more education sessions, and more influential contact with the opposite group might help to improve results in future studies.
learning, affective polarization, polarization, panel study, panel design