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

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

By Matthew Tyler and Shanto Iyengar, Stanford University

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.

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