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19.04.2023   kl. 11:15 - 12:15

DIAS x DDC: The Polarizing Effect of Partisan Echo Chambers

Guest lecture by Sara Hobolt, Sutherland Chair and Professor in the Department of Government, London School of Economics and author of “Political Entrepreneurs”

The Polarizing Effect of Partisan Echo Chambers

We are witnessing increasing partisan polarization across the world. It is often argued that partisan ‘echo chambers’ are one of the drivers of both policy and affective polarization. In this paper, we develop and test the argument that the political homogeneity of people’s social environment shapes polarization.

Using an innovative, large-scale pre-registered ‘lab-in-the-field’ experiment, fielded in the UK, we examine how polarization is influenced by partisan group homogeneity. We recruit nationally-representative partisans and assign them to discuss a salient policy issue, either with like-minded partisans (an echo chamber) or in a mixed partisan group. This allows us to examine how group composition affects polarization.

In line with our expectations, we find that partisan echo chambers increase both policy and affective polarization compared to mixed discussion groups. This has important implications for our understanding of the drivers of polarization and for how outgroup animosity might be ameliorated in the mass public.

The lecture takes place in the DIAS Auditorium, Fioniavej 34. Everybody is welcome and no registration is needed.

Live stream it at youtube.com/@danish-ias

The lecture is a collaboration between the Danish Institute for Advanced Study and the Digital Democracy Center (DDC)