Stanford, Calif. (CBS DC) – Political differences between Democrats and Republicans are increasingly moving to polar opposites, with their political biases spreading into their social lives more dramatically than race or religious differences.
The Stanford University research, “Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization,” finds that Americans are increasingly divided along political partisanship, which is a stronger factor for bias than that of race. Hostile feelings among Americans were more ingrained in a widening divide between Republicans and Democrats.
The researchers measured racial bias between blacks and whites against negative feelings held between Democrats and Republicans. And while subjects did exhibit racial bias throughout the four-part study, their political biases more strongly affected people’s behavior outside of the voting booth.
“The polarization of the American electorate has dramatically increased,” said Stanford political scientist Shanto Iyengar, whose co-author was Sean Westwood, a post-doctoral researcher at Princeton University. “We show that the level of partisan animus in the American public exceeds racial hostility.”
In one study, researchers examined a game designed to test people’s trust, in which one player was given money and told they could give some, all or none of the finances into the hands of another player. Subjects gave much larger amounts of money to someone who shared their political association.
Partisan attitudes were tested to predict non-political behavior by examining how 1,000 people viewed the resumes of high school seniors competing for scholarships. Documents included racial cues such as “president of the African American Student Association” and others featured politically-tinged prompts such as “president of the Young Republicans.” The findings showed that race mattered, with African-American participants preferring African-American candidates 73 to 27 percent of the time and whites also showing a preference for African-American applicants – although by a significantly smaller margin…
But political bias showed a much larger impact.