Given the high level of political polarization, it is important to understand how ideology might affect empathy toward political opponents. In the research by Samantha Stevens, Carl Jago, Katarzyna Jasko from CSCS, and Gail Heyman, participants read about a hypothetical politician and his political ideology, trustworthiness, or both. Participants reported their empathy for the politician after learning he was fined or injured.
When trustworthiness alone was manipulated, liberals and conservatives expressed similar levels of empathy, with greater empathy for the more trustworthy politician. However, when the politician’s ideology alone was manipulated, participants reported greater empathy for the politician who shared their ideology (i.e., selective empathy). When trustworthiness and ideology were both manipulated, selective empathy was observed when the politician was trustworthy. Overall, participant ideology alone had little effect on empathy. The findings provide evidence that ideological similarity is more important for empathy than ideology itself.
The paper has been published in ‘Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin’. You can find it >>HERE<<