Partisan Representations: Partisan Differences in Semantic Representations and their Role in Attitude Judgments

AbstractWe outline a new method to explore differences in se- mantic representations between groups and apply it to a novel domain where we might expect to find such differences: politics. We hypothesize and find confirmatory evidence that individuals of opposite partisanship, as measured by party identification, retrieve different semantic representations. We further evaluate whether differences in representations are predictive of attitude judgments as long suggested by constructivist theories of attitudes from social psychology. We find differences are indeed predictive of attitudes even after controlling for other strongly predictive covariates (party identification and ideology). In discussing our results we sketch out a broader theory of the role of semantic memory in attitude judgments.

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