chapter  7
From Silos to Synergies
The Effects of Construal Level on Political Polarization
ByJaime L. Napier, Jamie B. Luguri
Pages 19

This chapter explores emerging research that has demonstrated that relatively subtle changes in people's mindset or construal level have the potential to alleviate ideological divisions. Construal level theory argues that people construe the world on two levels: abstract or concrete. Most relevant to political polarization, construal level theorists have examined how construal level can influence peoples attitudes. It is conceivable that abstraction could reduce political polarization, at least for issues that center on core values shared by liberals and conservatives. In a series of studies we empirically tested Myrdal's proposition that thinking abstractly would reduce conservative's intolerance toward non-normative groups, and thereby reduce polarized attitudes, because it brings the core value of fairness to the forefront. In line with our predictions, results revealed a significant three-way interaction between the construal, identity salience, and baseline political orientation, such that abstraction decreased polarization between liberals and conservatives on policy attitudes when their national identity was salient.