Reinforcing spirals of political discussion and affective polarization

Hutchens, Myiah J.; Hmielowski, Jay D.; Beam, Michael A.
Communication Monographs

Using the theoretical framework of the Reinforcing Spirals Model, we examine over-time relationships between partisan political discussion and affective political polarization using two three-wave datasets collected during the 2016 and 2012 US Presidential Elections. Our results during both election cycles indicated that higher levels of polarization at wave 1 were associated with an increased discussion with like-minded partners at wave 2, which was associated with higher levels of polarization at wave 3. In all, these findings demonstrate support that reinforcing spirals occur through partisan political discussion on affective partisan attitudes.