Political Polarization: Often Not as Bad as We Think

Political Polarization: Often Not as Bad as We Think

As politics grows increasingly polarized, a new global study finds people often exaggerate political differences and negative feelings of those on the opposite side of the political divide, and this misperception can be reduced by informing them of the other side’s true feelings. The study replicates earlier research in the United States, finding the phenomenon to be generalizable across 25 countries. The Lee and Cikara study presented five political scenarios (e.g. banning anonymous political donations or changing the name given to the state highway) whereby one group proposes a change in law or policy which could disadvantage the other political party (Democrat or Republican). These misperceptions have real-world consequences, from polarization, intergroup conflict, and increasingly aggressive narratives in traditional and social media.

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