Stereotypes About Compassion Across the Political Spectrum

Julian A. Scheffer, C. Daryl Cameron, Stephanie McKee, Eliana Hadjiandreou, Aaron M. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To what extent are ideological differences in compassion real or exaggerated, and who is more likely to engage in stereotyping about such differences? In five studies, including three online studies and two field studies of voters at the Iowa Caucus and U.S. Presidential Election in 2016, we found evidence for political stereotyping about compassion. Although Democratic and Republican participants did not consistently rate themselves as feeling different amounts of compassion on a single-item self-assessment, there was a stereotype that the average Democrat/liberal is more compassionate than the average Republican/conservative. Importantly, this stereotype exaggerated the extent of self-reported differences in compassion across parties in these samples, and Democratic participants engaged in stronger stereotype exaggeration. These results suggest that although there can be ideological variability in compassion, the perceived difference may exaggerate this reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

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