Expressive Politics as (Costly) Norm-Following
70 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 1, 2019
When deciding whether to support a political candidate, policy or cause, individuals are observed to prioritize the expression of their political identities. They even knowingly incur personal costs (a lower wage, strained family relations) to do so. We argue that leading theories on how political identities drive political decisions cannot explain such costly political expression but viewing political identities as social identities that impart norms on who or what one ought to support can. Through a series of population-based experiments, we show that individuals are aware of the norms attached to their political identities; are aware when these norms conflict with other preferences; will knowingly choose norm-compliance over those other preferences; and that this costly political identity expression varies with norm salience and strength. Our results imply that as political identities strengthen, group norm compliance will increase, even at a cost, rendering compromise between political groups less likely.
Keywords: norms, identity, political expression, experiments
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