Academic Study Finds Political Animosity Now Exceeds Racial Hostility

stanfordA new study led by a researcher at Stanford University finds that political animosity now exceeds racial hostility in the United States. The research found a hardening of differences between followers of the nation’s two main political parties. And people tended to carry their political beliefs and biases into their social lives and contacts. Hostile feeling for people of the other political party now exceed racial biases and dislikes, according to the research.

The authors examined how 1,000 people viewed the resumes of several high school seniors competing for scholarships. Some of the documents included racial cues – “president of the African American Student Association” – while others had political ones – “president of the Young Republicans.” The results showed that partisanship made a much bigger impact than race on how people thought about others. Both Democrats and Republicans selected their in-party scholarship candidate about 80 percent of the time even when the candidate from the other party had stronger academic credentials.

Shanto Iyengar, a political scientist and director of the Political Communication Laboratory at Stanford University, stated that he and his co-author “were particularly surprised at the extent to which party politics has become a litmus test for interpersonal relations. Marriage across party lines is extremely rare.”

The paper, “Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization,” was coauthored by Sean J. Westwood, a postdoctoral research at Princeton University. The paper may be downloaded by clicking here.


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