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People aren't so politically polarized, study finds

January 27, 2012|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • The conservative-liberal gap isn't as great as many people perceive.
The conservative-liberal gap isn't as great as many people perceive. (Los Angeles Times )

Americans may think the country is deeply polarized politically, but that perception is incorrect, social scientists reported Friday at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in San Diego.

Researchers examined survey data from the American National Election Studies conducted among adults from 1948 through 2008. The findings suggest that people aren't any more polarized today than they were decades ago. But both Democrats and Republicans tend to overestimate the size of the gap between the parties.

People who viewed the polarization between parties as great were more likely to be politically engaged. Such  people are also more likely to vote, the researchers said.

In another study presented at the meeting, researchers found that no party holds a monopoly on moral conviction. This is counter to a perception that conservatives' political views are influenced more by morality than are liberals' views.

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