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Learning to Dislike Your Opponents: Political Socialization in the Era of Polarization

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2022

Stanford University, United States
Stanford University, United States
Matthew Tyler, Postdoctoral Scholar, Democracy and Polarization Lab, Stanford University, United States,
Shanto Iyengar, Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, United States,


Early socialization research dating to the 1960s showed that children could have a partisan identity without expressing polarized evaluations of political leaders and institutions. We provide an update to the socialization literature by showing that adolescents today are just as polarized as adults. We compare our findings to a landmark 1980 socialization study and show that distrust in the opposing party has risen sharply among adolescents. We go on to show that the onset of polarization in childhood is predicted by parental influence; adolescents who share their parents’ identity and whose parents are more polarized are apt to voice polarized views.

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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