How Incivility On Partisan Media (De)Polarizes the Electorate

Dartmouth Events

How Incivility On Partisan Media (De)Polarizes the Electorate

Seminar by Northwestern University Professor of Political Science James N. Druckman

Thursday, May 10, 2018
Silsby Hall 119
Intended Audience(s): Public

Partisan media-typically characterized by incivility-has become a defining element of the American political communication environment. While scholars have explored the consequences of partisan media for political attitudes and behaviors, little work has looked at how variations in incivility moderate partisan media's effects. Using a population-based survey experiment, we show that incivility affectively de¬polarizes partisans when it comes from an in-party source (e.g., MSNBC for Democrats, Fox News for Republicans). Incivility on out-party sources affectively polarizes the audience, however, and we show that the respondent's degree of conflict aversion conditions these effects. Our results raise intriguing normative questions about the tradeoffs between polarization and incivility, and highlight how scholars must account for both levels of incivility and partisan slant when studying the effects of partisan media.


James N. Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. His recent work examines how citizens make political, economic, and social decisions in various contexts. He also researches the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policy, and how political elites make decisions under varying institutional conditions.

Druckman has published roughly 100 articles and book chapters in political science, communication, economic, science, and psychology journals. He co-authored the book Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation. Druckman's work has been recognized with numerous awards including over 15 best paper/book awards; he also has received grant support from such entities as the National Science Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Phi Beta Kappa. His teaching/advising has been recognized with the Outstanding Award for Freshman Advising, a Faculty Mentoring Award, and an Outstanding Faculty citation by Northwestern's Associated Student Government.

Professor Druckman was the chair of QSS Postdoctoral Fellow D.J. Flynn's dissertation committee and served as undergraduate supervisor for QSS Postdoctoral Fellow Erik Peterson. His research on framing effects has inspired a number of scholars and students at Dartmouth. 

Read Professor Druckman's full Bio here

For more information, contact:
Laura Mitchell

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.