Threatened Identities and Affective Polarization in Multiparty System

05.03.2024 - 12:00 bis 13:30
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Art der Veranstaltung: 
AB B-Kolloquium
Hanna Bäck
Zugehörigkeit des Vortragenden: 
Lund University

Why do some individuals feel hostility and express bias against supporters of other political parties or groups? Drawing on intergroup threat theory, we focus on the role of threat perceptions, and emotional reactions to threat as predictors of affective polarization among voters. In a series of cross-sectional and experimental studies, we show that intergroup threat influences affective polarization. For example, in two survey experiments performed in the multiparty contexts of Sweden (N = 505) and Germany (N = 776), we manipulated intergroup threat using simulated online media, presenting participants with content related to immigration, and measured affective polarization using ratings of ingroup and outgroup supporter traits and feeling thermometers. Compared to a control condition, the threatening content evoked fear, anxiety, and anger among participants. However, only when individuals reacted to the threatening content with anger was increased affective polarization observed, in line with research showing that anger is a high-arousal emotion related to an increased reliance on stereotypes. The findings contribute to the literature on affective polarization by stressing the role of emotional reactions to intergroup threat.