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Presented By: Department of Economics

Social, Behavioral & Experimental Economics (SBEE): Hate Trumps Love: The Impact of Political Polarization on Social Preferences

Eugen Dimant, University of Pennsylvania

Econ Umich Econ Umich
Econ Umich
Political polarization has ruptured the fabric of U.S. society. I quantify this phenomenon through the use of 5 pre-registered studies, comprising 15 behavioral experiments and a diverse set of over 8,600 participants. The focus of this paper is to examine various behavioral-, belief-, and norm-based layers of (non-)strategic decision-making that are plausibly affected by existing polarization in the context of Donald J. Trump. I find strong heterogeneous effects: ingroup-love occurs in the perceptional domain (how close one feels towards others), whereas outgroup-hate occurs in the behavioral domain (how one helps/harms/cooperates with others). The rich setting also allows me to examine the mechanisms: observed intergroup conflict can be attributed to one's grim expectations about the cooperativeness of the opposing faction, rather than one's actual unwillingness to cooperate. In a final step, I test whether popular behavioral interventions (defaults and norm-nudging) can eradicate the detrimental impact of polarization in the contexts studied here. The interventions are ineffective in closing the polarization gap, suggesting that structural -- on top of behavioral -- changes are needed to heal the society

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April 21, 2021 (Wednesday) 1:00pm
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