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Title Polarization, Emotions and Democratic Consequences
Post date 11/10/2018
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

The larger study aims to analyze the causes and consequences of political polarization. In this particular study, we examine the role of emotions such as resentment and gratitude in producing or mitigating attitudes reflecting political tribalism, populism, and erosion of democratic norms. Further, we investigate how political rhetoric interacts with emotions to activate these political attitudes of tribalism, populism, and support for erosion of democratic norms.

Theory of relative deprivation: predicts emotion of resentment at a perceived inequity, injury or injustice. A Politics of resentment highlights the sense of lack of fairness, when the out-group receives more than they deserve and the in-group receives less than they deserve.

Antidote to resentment is gratitude in psychology of emotions literature. We posit that the equivalent feeling of gratitude in the politics of resentment would be solidarity – a sense of collective accompaniment and well-being, or communal cooperation.

Based on the theories above, we intend to prime resentment and gratitude through our experimental treatments. Priming resentment should exacerbate (while gratitude will lessen) negative political attitudes and support for illiberalism. We will also examine the moderating effect of political rhetoric on emotions, and its independent effect on the dependent variables.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

1. Perceptions of unfairness produce negative emotions that activate populist attitudes/behavior, racial resentment (U.S.), political tribalism and support for democratic erosion relative to control.

2. Perceptions of being helped produces positive emotions that deactivate/decrease populist attitudes, racial resentment (U.S.), political tribalism and support for democratic erosion relative to control (and to Relative Deprivation)

3. Political rhetoric about unfairness can activate DVs directly, or indirectly by positively moderating impact of feelings of relative deprivation on populist attitudes, racial resentment (U.S.) ,political tribalism and democratic erosion.

4. Political rhetoric about helpfulness can deactivate DVs directly, or indirectly by counteracting (negatively moderating) impact of feelings of relative deprivation on populist attitudes, racial resentment (U.S.),political tribalism and democratic erosion.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

We will use factor analyses to create proper measures for the outcome variables, such as populism, political tribalism, racial resentment, and support for democratic norms. We will first confirm that the Unfair and Helped treatments prime the expected emotions (as indicated in a prior pilot analysis with a student sample). We will then compare each of the emotion treatments with the control group to determine the impact on the dependent variables. The second phase of the analysis will examine the moderating effect of the rhetoric treatments on the dependent variables, as well as its independent effect on the dependent variables. The 3x3 design allows us to test each of these combinations of treatments and controls.

C4 Country The first iteration of this experiment will happen in the U.S.; however, we may run the experiment again in other nations.
C5 Scale (# of Units) 2,000 respondents
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number H18651
C9 Date of IRB Approval November 6th, 2018
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? The experimental treatments are text based and will be displayed in an experimental survey hosted by Qualtrics.
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? Yes
C13 JEL Classification(s) D72