Manuel Almagro (Universitat de València): A Multidimensional Approach to Affective Polarization

19 May, 2023 @ 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

What do we talk about when we talk about political polarization? One prominent concept in the literature is that of affective polarization, which is usually understood in terms of how large the difference between partisans’ feelings towards members of their own political group and members of the opposing political group is. Affectively polarized people tend to regard their political opponents with contempt and other negative emotions, regardless of whether their ideological opinions are more or less aligned. In this talk, I suggest that this conception is incomplete. The phenomenon of affective polarization involves more dimensions beyond feelings. In particular, I suggest that it involves five interrelated dimensions: political identities, divisive narratives, level of credence in those narratives, emotions, and political judgments. This multidimensional approach to affective polarization has some practical advantages: it expands the places we can look at to devise tools to measure affective polarization at an early stage, and allows us to provide more nuanced explanations of how certain phenomena contribute to its rise.