Mar 16, 2018 | 15:00—16:00
Polarization poses an existential threat to democratic political systems. Until recently, polarization was analyzed purely in terms of political positions. However, it becomes more and more apparent that polarization must also be seen as an affective phenomenon. In this presentation, we show that affect 1) correlates with polarization on the macro-level of Swiss political history, quantified with a novel measure of relational polarization, 2) increases the repetitiveness of online discussions, quantified on the basis of a neuro-probabilisitic language model, and 3), facilitates the alignment of issue positions. We also present an agent based model that explains the coupling between affect and opinion alignment, and produces testable psychological hypotheses. Our outcomes suggest that affect is not only an epiphenomenon, but a causal driver of political polarization.