You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling: How Gender Shapes Affective Polarization

Heather Louise Ondercin, Mary Kate Lizotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We examine variation in levels of affective polarization for men and women. Using the 1980 to 2016 American National Election Studies, we find that women are more affectively polarized than men. The effect of sex partially works indirectly through political identities and issue positions. Moreover, sex acts as a moderator, with political identities and issues positions have different effects on men’s and women’s level of affective polarization. Three factors create women’s higher levels of affective polarization: women are more likely to be partisans, strength in abortion attitudes, and partisanship has a more substantial influence on women’s attitudes compared to men’s attitudes. Breaking the analysis apart into three time periods: (1) gender gap emergence 1980 to 1988, (2) elite polarization 1990 to 1998, and (3) hyper-partisanship 2000 to 2016 reinforces that partisan strength is central to understanding affective polarization. Additionally, during the 1990s when elite polarization is intensifying the strength of issue attitudes and ideology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-292
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • affective polarization
  • gender gap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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