Research

Party animals? Extreme partisan polarization and dehumanization. Political Behavior. (with Alexander Theodoridis, Paul Piff, and Andres Martinez) Dehumanization is an extreme form of prejudice that is often used to justify discrimination and even violence. Using three large-N novel surveys and various measures of partisan dehumanization, my coauthors and I show that a majority of partisans are willing to apply dehumanizing metaphors to outparty members.

Partisan dehumanizing rhetoric and its effects on perceptions of opposing partisans. Under Review. Pundits and scholars have decried the use of incendiary and dehumanizing rhetoric by political elites, but the consequences of this rhetoric in the American political context are understudied. Using two survey experiments, I show that partisan dehumanizing rhetoric leads to an increase in implicit but not explicit dehumanization of the outparty. I also show that higher levels of partisan dehumanization are associated with an increased willingness to endorse political violence.

Unified Republicans, Fractious Democrats? Social norms in American political parties. Under Review. The Republican party is said to be a vehicle for an ideological movement and the Democratic party is said to be a fractious set of diverse group interests, but recent political events seem to contradict these definitions. I help explain this discrepancy using psychological theories of social group norms. Using in-depth interviews and a large, nationally representative survey, I show that Democrats and Republicans adhere to distinct sets of social norms.

Party apostates: The consequences of breaking partisan norms. Working Paper. Partisan social norms describe and prescribe group behavior. Are candidates who break these social norms punished electorally? Using a conjoint experiment, I show that many partisans punish candidates who break partisan norms. In fact, some partisans seem to be willing to risk losing a general election by supporting unqualified primary candidates over candidates who deviate from party norms.