New Research on How Affective Polarization Might Lead to Changes in Our Democratic Attitudes

SARIYER, Turkey - Dec. 1, 2022 - PRLog -- Today in many countries we witness democratic backsliding that manifests itself with a lapse in political rights, civil liberties, and fair elections. At the same time, politics is increasingly characterized by hostility and distrust. Koç University Assoc. Prof. Selim Erdem Aytaç from the Department of International Relations raises the question of how the phenomenon of affective polarization might be linked to democratic backsliding.

His project "DEPOLARIZE: Affective Polarization and Democratic Attitudes" recently received a Starting Grant of 1.5 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC). This marks the 27th grant received by Koç University professors out of a total of 47 in Turkey. With his research, Dr. Aytaç aims to establish whether there is a causal relationship between affective polarization and changes in democratic attitudes using novel empirical approaches. The project will also identify reliable and generalizable interventions to reduce affective polarization in multiple contexts.

The project will achieve these goals by producing and analyzing high-quality observational and experimental data from multiple waves of surveys in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and the US. Dr. Aytaç highlights that these countries were selected for analyses because they present not only examples of high levels of affective polarization in society but also have recently experienced democratic backsliding to different degrees.
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