Political differences may affect relationships: Study

By: |
Washington | July 9, 2016 4:52 PM

Living around people with opposing political views may affect your ability to form close relationships and accept other perspectives, besides even changing your personality, a new study has found.

The study, however, found that living among folks of common ideology may reduce conflict and promote individual well-being which in turn could be stifling healthy political discourse. (Reuters)The study, however, found that living among folks of common ideology may reduce conflict and promote individual well-being which in turn could be stifling healthy political discourse. (Reuters)

Living around people with opposing political views may affect your ability to form close relationships and accept other perspectives, besides even changing your personality, a new study has found.

The study, however, found that living among folks of common ideology may reduce conflict and promote individual well-being which in turn could be stifling healthy political discourse.

“You might be happier if you are a conservative and you move to a stereotypical conservative place, or a liberal to a liberal one, but maybe that is one of the reasons we see all the deadlock and polarisation along party lines,” said William Chopik from Michigan State University in the US.

The study examined national survey data of 19,162 people.

Researchers looked at participants’ political orientation, ideological climate and personality measures such as anxiety and avoidance (survey items include “I try to avoid getting too close to others” and “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective”).

Living among politically dissimilar others, the study found, had a psychological effect on people.

These political “misfits” had difficulty depending on and accepting the viewpoints of others. Further, rather than assimilate or alter their dispositions to be more similar to their neighbours, they withdrew from relationships.

“Because living among politically dissimilar others is associated with a reduced sense of belonging, ideological misfits may feel as though they cannot reliably depend on the people around them,” researchers said.

In the current political climate, Chopik said it is not uncommon for conservatives not to know any Hillary Clinton supporters, or for liberals not to know any Donald Trump supporters.

This may be at least partly the result of political segregation, he said.

“Obviously, Trump supporters exist, and Clinton supporters exist, but people are choosing an environment where the other side does not exist,” said Chopik.

“As people continue segregating themselves into geographic areas according to political ideology, it is important to understand the psychological states of the individuals living in these discordant communities,” he said.

The findings were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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