Affective polarization as a marker of social disruption: new approaches to research


The article describes the tool, which was formed and tested to assess politicians’ emotional attitude to predict the impact of affective polarization on the nature of political confrontations. Plutchek’s theoretical scheme of emotions has been operationalized, the tool for assessing emotional perception has been proposed, and its use for measuring the President’s emotional perception has been tested. Eight basic attitudes that can be used as the foundation for behavioural matrices, representing different types of links between emotional evaluations and behavioural attitudes, have been modelled. The tool was tested during the survey with the participation of 1420 respondents. There have been identified two latent factors, which demonstrate the internal connection of eight pairs of bipolar emotions concerning the figure of the President. The first factor covers the emotions of defeat, the second is – emotions of victory. As far as the emotional attitude to the President is concerned, the presence of an emotional split between those who voted for him and those who were against him has been confirmed. It was found out that the structure of the emotional perception of the President by the winners is mobile and combines both positive and negative emotions. At the same time, the structure of the emotional attitude of the losers is monochrome and is mainly represented by negative emotions. Comparison of emotional profiles of representatives of polar groups revealed that the behavioural model of the defeated is formed by mixing two fundamental attitudes, those of the Distressed and the Rejected. The behavioural model of the winners is formed on the ground of the essential attitude, that of the Stakeholders. The emotional profile of those who did not vote for any of the candidates is generally closer to the profile of the winners. Significant differences in the emotional perception of the President between those who voted for and against him have been defined. There have also been fixed the peculiarities of emotional perception of the figure of the President, depending on the level of education and financial status of the respondents.

  1. Tajfel, H., Turner, J. (2001). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In M.A. Hogg, D. Abrams (Eds.), Intergroup relations: Essential readings (pp. 94-109). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.

  2. Iyengar, S. Sood, G., Lelkes, Y. (2012). Affect, Not Ideology: A Social Identity Perspective on Polarization. Public Opinion Quarterly, 76 (3), 405-431.

  3. Mason, L. (2015). ‘I Disrespectfully Agree’: The Differential Effects of Partisan Sorting on Social and Issue Polarization. American Journal of Political Science, 59 (1), 128-145.

  4. Banda, K., Cluverius, J. (2018). Elite polarization, party extremity, and affective polarization. Electoral Studies, 56, 90-101.

  5. Westwood, S., Iyengar, S., Walgrave, S., Leonisio, R., Miller, L., Strijbis, O. (2018). The tie that divides: Cross- national evidence of the primacy of partyism. European Journal of Political Research, 57 (2), 333-354.

  6. Dirty Pool on Facebook: Anti-Campaigning Against the Front-Runners in the 2019 Presidential Campaign. (2020). URL:

  7. Facebook campaigns in support of the leaders of the presidential election in 2019. (2020). URL: [in Ukrainian]

  8. Druckman, J., Levendusky, M. (2019). What do we measure when we measure affective polarization? Public Opinion Quarterly, 83 (4), 114-122.

  9. Petty, R.E., Cacioppo, J.T. (1986). The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 123-205.

  10. Hahnel, U., Mumenthaler, C., Brosch, T. (2020). Emotional Foundations of the Public Climate Change Divide. Climatic Change, 161 (1), 9-19.

  11. Kirzinger, A., Kearney, A., Hamel, L., Brodie, M. (2021). KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: The Increasing Importance of Partisanship in Predicting COVID-19 Vaccination Status. URL:

  12. Eagly, A., Chaiken, S. (1995). Attitude strength, attitude structure, and resistance to change. In J. Krosnick, R. Petty (Eds.), Attitude Strength: Antecedents and Consequences (pp. 413-442). Ohio: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  13. Weisberg, H., Greene, S. (2003). The political psychology of party identification. In M. MacKuen, G. Rabinowitz (Eds.), Electoral Democracy (pp. 81-124). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

  14. Iyengar, S., Krupenkin, M. (2018). The Strengthening of Partisan Affect. Advances in Political Psychology, 39 (S1), 201-218.

  15. Greene, S. (2002). The Social-Psychological Measurement of Partisanship. Political Behavior, 24 (3), 171-197.

  16. Bezrukova, O.A., Bezrukova, K.M. (2020). Development of socio-psychological criteria for typologization of electoral groups. Habitus, 14, 234-238 [in Ukrainian]

  17. Generation of independence: values and motivation. URL: [In Ukrainian]

  18. Fontaine, J., Scherer, K., Soriano, C. (2013). The why, the what, and the how of the GRID instrument. In J.R.J. Fontaine, K.R. Scherer, C. Soriano (Eds.), Components of emotional meaning: A sourcebook (pp. 83-97). New York: Oxford University Press.

  19. Scherer, K., Shuman, V., Fontaine, J., Soriano, C. (2013). The GRID meets the Wheel: Assessing emotional feeling via self-report. In J.R.J. Fontaine, K.R. Scherer, C. Soriano (Eds.), Components of emotional meaning: A sourcebook (pp. 281-298). New York: Oxford University Press.

  20. Presidential election 2020: Emotions and future behaviour of U.S. voters. (2020). URL:

  21. Sacharin, V., Schlegel, K., Scherer, K.R. (2012). Geneva Emotion Wheel rating study (Report). Geneva, Switzerland: University of Geneva, Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences. URL:

  22. Plutchik, R. (1980). A general psychoevolutionary theory of emotion. In R. Plutchik, H. Kellerman (Eds.), Emotion: Theory, research, and experience: Vol. 1. Theories of emotion (pp. 3-33). London: Academic Press.

  23. Plutchik, R. (2001). The nature of emotions. American Scientist, 89, 344-350.

  24. Smith, H., Schneider, A. (2009). Critiquing Models of Emotions. Sociological Methods & Research, 37 (4), 560-589.

  25. Iyengar, S., Lelkes, Y., Levendusky, M., Malhotra, N., Westwood, S. (2019). The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States. Annual Review of Political Science, 22, 129-146.

  26. Weisberg, H.F., Rusk, J.G. (1970). Dimensions of candidate evaluation. American Political Science Review, 64 (4), 1167-1185.

Full text