Partisan, Humble Thyself: How Political Overconfidence Fuels Affective Polarization

01 May 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Ongoing research shows that many Americans erroneously believe themselves to know more about politics than their peers. This form of “political overconfidence” has been associated with extreme ideological position-taking and susceptibility to misinformation, among other patterns of behavior. Does knowledge overconfidence among partisans also drive negative affect towards members of the opposing political party? In this short article, I present the results of a pre-registered survey experiment (N = 1,049) designed to assess the causal link between knowledge overconfidence and negative perceptions of political parties and their members. By randomly exposing experimental subjects to messages designed to mitigate knowledge overconfidence, I measure the degree to which such interventions can reduce negativity towards partisans’ political opponents. Results show that invoking humility among partisans can dampen negative assessments of the out-party and raise respondents’ willingness to communicate with partisan alters.


affective polarization
political overconfidence
political knowledge


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