The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States

Posted: 28 May 2019

See all articles by Shanto Iyengar

Shanto Iyengar

Stanford University - Department of Communication

Yphtach Lelkes

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Matthew Levendusky

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Neil Malhotra

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Sean Westwood

Dartmouth College

Date Written: May 2019

Abstract

While previously polarization was primarily seen only in issue-based terms, a new type of division has emerged in the mass public in recent years: Ordinary Americans increasingly dislike and distrust those from the other party. Democrats and Republicans both say that the other party's members are hypocritical, selfish, and closed-minded, and they are unwilling to socialize across party lines. This phenomenon of animosity between the parties is known as affective polarization. We trace its origins to the power of partisanship as a social identity, and explain the factors that intensify partisan animus. We also explore the consequences of affective polarization, highlighting how partisan affect influences attitudes and behaviors well outside the political sphere. Finally, we discuss strategies that might mitigate partisan discord and conclude with suggestions for future work.

Suggested Citation

Iyengar, Shanto and Lelkes, Yphtach and Levendusky, Matthew and Malhotra, Neil and Westwood, Sean, The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States (May 2019). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 22, pp. 129-146, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3394075 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051117-073034

Shanto Iyengar (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Communication ( email )

CA
United States
650-723-5509 (Phone)
650-723-6933 (Fax)

Yphtach Lelkes

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Matthew Levendusky

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Neil Malhotra

Stanford Graduate School of Business

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Sean Westwood

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
7752293205 (Phone)
7752293205 (Fax)

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