Have Americans' social attitudes become more polarized?

Paul DiMaggio, John Evans, Bethany Bryson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many observers have asserted with little evidence that Americans' social opinions have become polarized. Using General Social Survey and National Election Survey social attitude items that have been repeated regularly over 20 years, the authors ask (1) Have Americans' opinions become more dispersed (higher variance)? (2) Have distributions become flatter or more bimodal (declining kurtosis)? (3) Have opinions become more ideologically constrained within and across opinion domains? (4) Have paired social groups become more different in their opinions? The authors find little evidence of polarization over the past two decades, with attitudes toward abortion and opinion differences between Republican and Democratic party identifiers the exceptional cases.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)690-755
    Number of pages66
    JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Nov 1996

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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