Lukas Stoetzer, Simon Munzert, Will Lowe, Başak Çalı, Anita R. Gohdes, Marc Helbling, Rahsaan Maxwell, Richard Traunmüller
Affective partisan polarization and moral dilemmas during the COVID-19 pandemic

Political Science Research and Methods, 2023: 11, issue 2, pp. 429-436
ISSN: 2049-8470 (print), 2049-8489 (online)

Recent scholarship on affective polarization documents partisan animosity in people's everyday lives. But does partisan dislike go so far as to deny fundamental rights? We study this question through a moral dilemma that gained notoriety during the COVID-19 pandemic: triage decisions on the allocation of intensive medical care. Using a conjoint experiment in five countries we analyze the influence of patients’ partisanship next to commonly discussed factors determining access to intensive medical care. We find that while participants’ choices are consistent with a utilitarian heuristic, revealed partisanship influences decisions across most countries. Supporters of left or right political camps are more likely to withhold support from partisan opponents. Our findings offer comparative evidence on affective polarization in non-political contexts.