Validating the feeling thermometer as a measure of partisan affect in multi-party systems

Noam Gidron*, Lior Sheffer, Guy Mor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Affective polarization is increasingly studied comparatively, and virtually all studies that do so operationalize it using the feeling thermometer. Yet this survey instrument has not yet been validated in a multi-party context. We argue that for the thermometer to be a valid measure of partisan affect also in multi-party systems, it needs to capture sentiment towards partisans and to correlate with other measures of affective polarization. Using panel study fielded throughout Israel's elections in 2019–2020, we show that both requirements hold. We use text analysis to substantiate that thermometer scores reflect sentiment towards party supporters, and demonstrate that they go hand-in-hand with preferences for social distance and discrimination in economic games. We discuss implications for the study of affective polarization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102542
JournalElectoral Studies
Volume80
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Funding

FundersFunder number
Levi Eshkol Institute
American Political Science Association
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Israel Science Foundation1806/19

    Keywords

    • Multiparty systems
    • Polarization
    • Social distance

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