May 18, 2018 | 14:00—15:30
Affective Intelligence Theory (AIT) postulates that political behavior is strongly influenced by affective states.
Enthusiasm and aversion lead people to rely on simple cognitive heuristics and reinforce social identity, whereas anxiety causes people to adopt more complex cognitive strategies and weakens group boundaries.
Until now, AIT has mostly been tested on survey data.
Instead, we tested a dimensional reformulation of AIT (DAIT) against data from a German-speaking online news community, 20min.ch.
In this community, users discuss recent news and give up and down votes to each others’ comments, often producing heated discussions.
We find that discussions characterized by low affective potency and extreme valence (“enthusiasm” and “aversion”) produce more polarized votes and signal lower cognitive complexity than discussions with high potency (“anxiety”) and/or less extreme valence.
This effect is even stronger when there is a high salience of social identity in discussions.
Thus, we can confirm DAIT, and open the door for further analysis of DAIT in other languages and settings.