Reducing Polarization towards Elected Officials through Political Content in Us Weekly



The article discusses an experiment examining how personalizing political figures can reduce polarized feelings toward them. The experiment found that politicians who share non-political autobiographical details receive more favorable evaluations from the public, with these details reducing partisan bias in evaluations. It was particularly noted that members of opposing parties are more likely to report warmer feelings toward a politician if they read about their personal life, indicating that such soft news coverage can potentially depolarize partisan evaluations of politicians.

Political science and politics imageReducing Polarized Affect Toward Elected Officials with Political Content in Us Weekly

By Jennifer Wolak, Michigan State University

Politicians strive to manage their image, aiming to be seen as individuals, not just public figures. I investigate this strategy’s effectiveness using an experiment drawn from Us Weekly’s celebrity entertainment column. My findings indicate that when politicians share nonpolitical, autobiographical information, it promotes more favorable public perception and can depolarize partisan evaluations. Specifically, reading these personalizing details fosters warmer feelings toward politicians by both parties, but particularly among the opposition. This suggests that such soft news coverage can help in reducing polarized affect towards elected officials.

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