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Jan Gerrit Voelkel

Jan Gerrit Voelkel picture

Jan Gerrit Voelkel

American Democracy Graduate Fellows


Jan is a PhD student in Sociology. He uses experiments, conducts text-analyses, and organizes crowd-sourced tournaments to examine the following research questions: (1) Why do people disagree on moral and political issues? (2) Under which conditions do people change their moral and political attitudes? (3) Under which conditions do people with different ideologies successfully cooperate with each other? In the project supported by the Center for American Democracy, Jan uses a series of experiments and meta-analyses to examine the causal effects of attitude change on affective polarization.

Do Political Attitudes Matter for Affective Polarization?

Is affective polarization rooted in attitudinal disagreements? Existing research / disagrees on this question. In the current paper, we leverage 30 effects of attitude change intervention on affective polarization (total n = 7467) to provide the best empirical test of this question so far. We find that attitude interventions that significantly reduce attitudinal polarization (meta-analytical estimate for Cohen’s d = 0.20) barely affect affective polarization (Cohen’s d = -0.01). Attitude interventions that significantly increase attitudinal polarization (meta-analytical estimate for Cohen’s d = 0.27) also do not affect affective polarization (meta-analytical estimate for Cohen’s d = -0.02). These results provide evidence that affective polarization is rooted in other causes than attitudinal disagreements.