The Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI) was formed in 2020 to help support research into underexplored ideas in political psychology and the social sciences. With the rise of populism, increasing polarization, and identity-based movements across the world, there has rarely been a better time to study these topics.
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Areas of Interest

The following are our main fields of interest. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, as we may be interested in supporting research that does not fall into one of the categories below as long as it is related to the replication crisis or an underexplored social science topic.

1. The Great Awokening

Moral psychologists have discovered that there is something unique in the worldview of populations that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD). In the last decade, white American liberals have shifted further to the left on issues related to race, gender, and sexual orientation, a development that was documented by Zach Goldberg and termed “The Great Awokening” by Matt Yglesias.

White liberals make up the dominant group in academia, journalism, and other influential professions. They are the most powerful demographic in America, and therefore the world. Yet as of January 2020, the term “Great Awokening” has been mentioned only ten times according to Google Scholar. Relative to conservatism, liberalism, particularly in the form it has taken in recent years, remains underexplored. For example, while the study of the biases and prejudices of conservatives goes back decades, only in recent years have scholars truly explored their equivalents among those who identify with the political left. What are the psychological and social roots of The Great Awokening? Is it best thought of as an extension of WEIRD morality, or something new? Are there aspects of this morality that are particularly surprising or unusual? Is The Great Awokening restricted to American liberals, or is there evidence of similar processes elsewhere?

2. The Relationship between the Replication Crisis and Political Bias in Social Psychology

As we are interested in both the replication crisis and political bias, we are particularly interested in where these two areas intersect. Has the bias of the field towards the left contributed to the acceptance of certain findings with weak empirical support, or, alternatively, the premature rejection of theories that can open up new paths of understanding?

In addition to supporting attempts to replicate important findings in the field of political psychology, we would also consider funding those who are interested in doing statistical analysis of how political bias may have contributed to the replication crisis.

3. The Tension Between Tribalism and Morality

Broadly speaking, two of the most important findings of political psychology are the role of tribalism and how morality divides those of differing ideologies. In a sense, however, research on tribalism and research on morality are in tension. Do people adopt certain kinds of morality to be consistent with their tribes, or do they join tribes based on predispositions towards certain moral ideas and not others? Under what social, economic, or cultural conditions is the arrow of causation more likely to flow in one direction instead of the other? We are interested in original research seeking to answer these and related questions, and also projects that rely on previous research to reconcile findings on tribalism with research on how morality drives political preferences.

4. Populism and Anti-Left Backlash as a Global Phenomenon

Across the world, the politics of various countries are coming to resemble one another to a much greater degree than before. In opposition to entrenched elites, populist movements are rising up and rallying against immigration and cultural change. While the best research indicates that morality and tribalism, rather than economic grievances or anxiety, is driving these movements, some deeper questions remain underexplored. What are the geopolitical implications of the new populism? Why are certain countries more subject to populist backlashes than others? What is the relationship between The Great Awokening, to the extent that we see it in any particular country, and the populist movements that we see rising?

5. Racial Minorities and Political Psychology

In any given American election, around 30 percent of Hispanics and Asians and perhaps 10 percent of African Americans vote Republican. Too often, however, political discourse treats white Americans as the only group that has serious divisions and ignores the perspectives and values of non-whites, particularly the substantial number of minorities that do not identify with or vote for the Democratic Party. The study of prejudice in particular is in effect the study of how whites feel towards groups such as blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants; how minority groups feel towards whites or one another is largely ignored. We welcome research that seeks to fill the gaps in this and related literatures.

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