Rebecca Weiss

Department of Communication


The Impact of Partisan Identity Salience on Self-Reported Political Behaviors



Though it is commonly accepted that elite polarization is a real phenomenon, meaning policy position extremism among politicians is occurring and increasing over time (Hetherington), similar issue-based polarization amongst the mass electorate has not been demonstrated (Fiorina). Most evidence indicates the opposite; that American partisans have remained rather stable with respect to the strength of their policy positions, measured as self-placement on an issue in a 1-dimensional space.  Recent research has provided evidence that observed polarization is actually an result of the strength of partisan identity, and that growing animus between partisans is largely a result of social identity activation.  In my research, I focus on how the manipulation of political identity increases or decrease the self-report of positions on key issues and on reported media consumption in order to identify the effect of identity salience on self-reported political behaviors.