Factual belief polarization between Democrats and Republicans: Source or epiphenomenon of ideological and affective polarization?

26 October 2023, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Democrats and Republicans have polarized in their attitudes and their feelings toward each other. Simultaneously, both groups also diverge in their factual perceptions of reality. This experiment examined how this factual belief polarization may or may not fuel ideological and affective polarization around income differences, immigration, climate change, and defense spending. Democrats and Republicans were equally or more divided in their beliefs about the present than in their ideals for the future. Corrective information decreased polarization over some ideals, but not policy attitudes. Priming perceptions conversely increased polarization around defense spending, but not other issues. Much remains unclear about the complex relation between factual beliefs and polarization, but measuring ideals and priming beliefs could be promising avenues for future research.


factual beliefs
ideological polarization
affective polarization
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.