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Fuqua School of Business
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Publications [#362846] of Aaron C. Kay

Journal Articles

  1. Goya-Tocchetto, D; Kay, AC; Vuletich, H; Vonasch, A; Payne, K, The partisan trade-off bias: When political polarization meets policy trade-offs, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 98 (January, 2022) [doi]
    (last updated on 2023/06/07)

    Liberals and conservatives currently struggle to reach political agreement on policy proposals. While political polarization is closely associated with this phenomenon, the precise psychological mechanisms via which polarization works to affect political compromise remain to be fully explored. Across five studies (N = 1236; 2126 total individual observations), we uncover one such mechanism by exploring a novel and robust bias that emerges at the crossroads of policy trade-offs and partisanship. We call it the Partisan Trade-off Bias. When interpreting policy trade-offs, both Democrats and Republicans view the unintended but unavoidable side effects of policies proposed by contrapartisans as wanted and intended. Yet they do not attribute intentionality to the very same types of side effects of policies proposed by copartisans. We provide evidence for this bias across four types of policy trade-offs, including taxes, environmental regulation, gun control, and voting rights. Importantly, we show that the partisan trade-off bias is a unique contributor to decreased willingness to accept policy deals from contrapartisans, thus reducing the chances of reaching political agreement. Our studies suggest that the partisan trade-off bias is a product of the lack of trust in contrapartisans. In an experimental study, we manipulate trust and decrease the magnitude of this bias, showing evidence for our proposed mechanism and revealing a potential intervention to foster political compromise.

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