Losing Hurts: The Happiness Impact of Partisan Electoral Loss

53 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2014 Last revised: 13 Mar 2015

See all articles by Lamar Pierce

Lamar Pierce

Washington University, Saint Louis - John M. Olin School of Business

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Jason Snyder

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Date Written: March 5, 2015

Abstract

Partisan identity shapes social, mental, economic, and physical life. Using a novel dataset, we study the consequences of partisan identity by examining the immediate impact of electoral loss and victory on happiness and sadness. Employing a quasi-experimental regression discontinuity model we present two primary findings. First, elections strongly affect the immediate happiness/sadness of partisan losers, but minimally impact partisan winners. This effect is consistent with psychological research on the good-bad hedonic asymmetry, but appears to dissipate within a week after the election. Second, the immediate happiness consequences to partisan losers are relatively strong. To illustrate, we show that partisans are affected two times more by their party losing the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election than both respondents with children were to the Newtown shootings and respondents living in Boston were to the Boston Marathon bombings. We discuss implications regarding the centrality of partisan identity to the self and its well-being.

Keywords: Partisanship, Political Psychology, Happiness, Elections, Identity, Well-Being, Obama

Suggested Citation

Pierce, Lamar and Rogers, Todd and Snyder, Jason, Losing Hurts: The Happiness Impact of Partisan Electoral Loss (March 5, 2015). HKS Working Paper No. RWP14-051. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2528709 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2528709

Lamar Pierce

Washington University, Saint Louis - John M. Olin School of Business ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
314-935-5205 (Phone)

Todd Rogers (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jason Snyder

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

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