chapter  3
Ideological Differences in the Expanse of Empathy
WithAdam Waytz, Ravi Iyer, Liane Young, Jesse Graham
Pages 17

The American political landscape of the 21st century has largely been characterized by culture wars between liberals and conservatives. On policy issues as diverse as economic regulation, defense spending, abortion, marriage equality, and health care, ideological differences have become increasingly pronounced, as reflected in political legislation, public opinion, and news coverage. Much of recent political psychology has indeed focused on explaining ideological differences in terms of cognition, perception, motivation, behavior, and psychological ability. Other empirical research that has employed measures of general empathy and measures of political ideology also shows that liberalism is correlated with self-reported empathy. Empirical research has also examined the association between empathic concern and social dominance orientation (SDO), an individual difference variable that reflects the endorsement of social hierarchy and that is also typically associated with political conservatism. Conservatives, in their tendencies toward closure, order, and stability should expend empathy toward smaller, more well-defined, and less permeable social circles.