Party Identification and Social Relationships: Exploring the Causal Mechanisms

29 April 2022, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Due to the rise of affective polarization, Americans today not only feel psychologically distant from out-partisans but also prefer to build political and non-political social relationships with co-partisans. However, it is not clear why we see such patterns. Is it because people consider co-partisans to share similar demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and thus feel more comfortable interacting with them? Or is it because they believe that co-partisans share their policy positions? To answer this research question, this paper conducted original survey experiments that were suitably designed to study causal mechanisms. The analysis of the experimental data revealed that both group traits and policy issues play important roles in explaining the effect of partisanship on both political and non-political relations. We also compared the explanatory power of group characteristics and issue positions to demonstrate the latter more strongly drive the effect of partisanship.


affective polarization
party identification
survey experiment


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.