People use social cues to decide whether they want to interact with others. As everyday life has become more politicized, we now attach political meaning to seemingly apolitical activities, from the food we eat, to the movies and TV shows we watch, to the car we drive. Do these stereotypes affect social behavior? Using two survey experiments, including one with a nationally representative sample, I show that people use apolitical cues to draw inferences about others’ political leanings. More importantly, these inferences impact decisions about which individuals they want to interact with, which lead to reduced cross-party contact as well as cross-cutting political discussion. The findings have important implications for how partisan stereotypes of everyday attributes might indirectly exacerbate political polarization.
"How the Politicization of Everyday Life Affects the Public Sphere: The Effects of Partisan Stereotypes on Cross-Cutting Interactions." Political Communication, 2020.