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Candidate evaluations across the aisle: Cross-cultural evidence that out-partisans value candidate warmth more than in-partisans

New publication from Lasse Laustsen in cooperation with Alexander Bor (Department og Political Science, Aarhus University) in European Journal of Political Research



Partisans view their own candidates through rose-coloured glasses and see competing candidates much more negatively. However, recent advances in political behaviour reveal that such directional motivated reasoning is not simply about love and hate, but also about more nuanced shifts in preferences. Combining two insights from the psychological sciences – coalitional reasoning and a general dislike of self-interested leaders – we form the novel prediction that voters pay more attention to out-party than to in-party candidates’ warmth. We show firm evidence for this prediction relying on election studies data with candidate warmth impressions from 27 elections from seven countries (Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States) between 1984 and 2016; and a re-analysis of existing experimental data (total N = 140K). Our paper reveals sophisticated psychological mechanisms regulating the importance of candidate warmth and implies that candidates seeking to reduce the partisan gap should establish a warm image.