A Difference Between Democrats and Republicans – The Effects of Empathy on Political Interest

Below is a simple little graph of yourmorals.org data that I thought would be worth posting.  Interest in politics is positively correlated with empathic concern in liberals/democrats and not in conservatives/republicans.  It’s somewhat self-evident in posts like this, or debates about the role of empathy from either the Democratic or Republican side.

Can this difference be used to the advantage of the Democratic party?  Perhaps inspiring empathy in the electorate will motivate liberals to be politically active more than conservatives?  and how exactly might one appeal to empathy?  Perhaps by pushing poverty reduction programs, increases in foreign non-military aid, or putting a human face on health care reform?

empathy_self_interest_difference_republicans_democrats

btw, empathic concern is measured using Davis’ Interpersonal Reactivity Index which contains questions like “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”  The next obvious step is to manipulate empathy and see if it has any impact on political behavior, or at least on the intention to engage in political behavior, as there is only so much that can be inferred from this correlation.  Still, it’s a promising research lead with interesting potential applications toward inspiring political interest.

- Ravi Iyer

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