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Advances in Intergroup Communication

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Edited By Howard Giles and Anne Maass

Advances in Intergroup Communication is a timely contribution to the field. It reflects developments in older, more established intergroup settings (e.g., gender, sexual orientation, organizations) whilst introducing newer studies such as the military and political parties. It also pays attention to emerging trends in new media and social networks and considers the developing field of neuroscience of communication.
The volume brings together authors from different geographical areas (North America, Europe, and Australia) and from different disciplines (particularly communication, linguistics, and psychology). Contributions are organized around five themes, corresponding to the five sections of the book: defining features and constraints; tools of intergroup communication; social groups in their context; intergroup communication in organizations; and future directions.
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Chapter Thirteen: An Intergroup Approach to Political Communication

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← 208 | 209 →CHAPTER THIRTEEN

An Intergroup Approach to Political Communication

CHARLOTTE NAU

Political partisanship is widely considered a central force in democracies. Ever since a group of researchers at the University of Michigan noted in their influential studies The Voter Decides (Campbell, Gurin, & Miller, 1954) and The American Voter (Campbell, Converse, Miller, & Stokes, 1960) that individuals form lasting attachments to parties, their concept of party identification has been dominating electoral research. To this day, their observation remains relevant in that, according to current polls, more than half (56%) of Americans consider themselves ‘a Democrat’ or ‘a Republican,’ with an additional 36% of ‘independents’ leaning towards one or the other party (Party Affiliation, 2015).

Such attachments are not without consequences. As Campbell and colleagues (1960) noted, party identification influences how voters respond to political information. Specifically, they argued that it “raises a perceptual screen through which the individual tends to see what is favorable to [their] partisan orientation” (p. 133). Decades later, it is now a widely-accepted notion that party identification influences the way humans encode and decode political messages, and numerous studies have accumulated evidence for partisanship-related biases in communication (e.g., Jacoby, 1988; Lodge & Hamill, 1986; Zaller, 1992). Altogether, partisanship is “a pervasive dynamic force shaping citizens’ perceptions of, and reactions to, the political world” (Bartels, 2002, p. 138). As such, it is powerful enough to intensify differing views up to a point where reconciliation becomes difficult. According...

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