Validating the Feeling Thermometer as a Measure of Partisan Affect in Multi-Party Systems

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.
 

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 10/29/2022