The authors argue that cultural fragmentation models predict that cultural change is driven primarily by period effects, whereas acquired dispositions models predict that cultural change is driven by cohort effects. To ascertain which model is on the right track, the authors develop a novel method to measure “cultural durability,” namely, the share of over-time variance that is due to either period or cohort effects for 164 variables from the 1972–2014 General Social Surveys. The authors find fairly strong levels of cultural durability across most items, especially those connected to values and morality, but less so for attitudes toward legal and political institutions.
The day after the 2015 UK General Election, Rebecca Roache––who is nowa Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway––wrote a blog postentitled, ‘If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend’. She began her blog post with the following statement:
One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends ‘like’ the UKIP page.)
Was Dr Roache’s decision an isolated incident, or was it part of a more general tendency for people with left-wing/liberal views to block or unfriend their ideological counterparts? In an attempt to answer this question, I tracked down as many relevant surveys and polls as I could. The results are presented below.
In 2012, Pew Research found that liberals were more likely than conservatives to have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone they disagreed with on social networking sites.
In 2014, YouGov found that Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters were much more likely to say they would find it harder to be friends with someone who became a UKIP supporter than vice versa.
In 2014, Pew Research replicated their 2012 result, finding that consistent liberals were more likely than conservatives to have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone they disagreed with on Facebook.
In 2015, StatsSocial found that right-wing twitter users were more likely to follow left-wing pundits than vice versa. On average, 34% of users following the top 50 left-wing pundits were right-wing, whereas only 26% of users following the top 50 right-wing pundits were left-wing.
In 2016, the Public Religion Research Institute found that Democrats were more likely than Republicans to have blocked, unfriended or stopped following someone they disagreed with on social networking sites.
In 2016, Demos found that Conservative supporters were slightly more likely to have retweeted Labour or SNP supporters than vice versa. However, they also found that UKIP supporters were no more likely to have retweeted Labour or SNP supporters than vice versa.
In 2016, YouGov found that Conservative supporters were less likely to say they would be upset if their child married someone who supported Labour, and that Republicans were less likely to say they would be upset if their child married a Democrat.
In 2017, Pew Research found that Democrats were much more likely to say that a friend voting for Trump would put a strain on their friendship than Republicans were to say that a friend voting for Hillary Clinton would put a strain on their friendship.
In 2017, The Dartmouth (a college newspaper) found that Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to say they would be uncomfortable having a roommate with opposing political views to their own.
In 2017, The Cato institute found that Hillary Clinton voters were much more likely to say they would find it hard to be friends with a Donald Trump voter than vice versa.
In 2018 the The Dartmouth replicated their 2017 result, finding that Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to say they would be disinclined to befriend another student who had political beliefs opposite from their own.
Finally in 2018, YouGov confirmed that Labour and Remain supporters were more less likely to have friends with different political views than were Conservative and Leave supporters.
It should be noted that not all the evidence goes in the same direction. For example, a 2012 paper in Public Opinion Quarterly reported that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they would be unhappy if their child married someone from the opposite party. And a 2016 survey by Professor Lynn Vavreck found no difference between supporters of the two parties.
Overall however, the weight of evidence (especially the most recent evidence) indicates that Dr Roache’s decision was not an isolated incident. Of course, it might simply be that people with left-wing/liberal views are more willing to admit to disengaging from their ideological opponents.