The Social Consequences of Political Anger. Steven W. Webster. Elizabeth C. Connors. Betsy Sinclair. December 8, 2021.
“Abstract – A functioning democracy relies on social interactions between people who disagree—including listening to others’ viewpoints, having political discussions, and finding political compromise.Yet, social life in the contemporary United States is characterized by a relative lack of inter-action between Democrats and Republicans (or, social polarization). We argue that political anger contributes to social polarization by causing Americans to cut off ties with opposing partisans. We first draw on data from the American National Election Studies and the Wesleyan Media Project to show that the mass public is increasingly angry and that politicians often seek to elicit anger. We then present results from a survey experiment on nearly 3,500 Americans, finding that the exogenous introduction of anger leads partisans to socially polarize across a range of settings. Our findings suggest that increasing levels of political anger paralyze politics and harm democracy by influencing Americans’ social interactions and relationships.”
“Supplementary material for this article is available in the appendix in the online edition. Replication files are avail-able in the JOP Data Archive on Dataverse (http://thedata.harvard.edu/dvn/dv/jop). The empirical analysis has been successfully replicated by the JOP replication analyst. The experiment in this study was conducted in compliance with all relevant laws and was approved by the institutional review board at Washington University in St. Louis.”