Bringing critical social psychology to the study of political polarization

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The study of political polarization, in both its ideological and its affective expressions, has garnered significantly more interest over the last years. But despite recent research on the conceptualization, measurement, causes, and consequences of this socio-political phenomenon, and some tentative interventions to mitigate it, relevant new avenues remain surprisingly underdeveloped. Indeed, scholarship in the field of political polarization, mainly in the case of affective polarization, frequently uses cognitivist approaches to
make sense of the growing antipathy between different social and political groups. However, the bulk of this work seems to overlook valuable insights into the psychology of intergroup conflict, stereotyping, prejudice reduction, and discourse studies. The aim of this paper is to underline the main gaps in the political polarization literature, to subsequently argue how knowledge linked to the tradition of critical social psychology can help in filling them. Ultimately, the article aims to contribute to the psychosocial study of political polarization and to the design, if necessary, of interventions to counter its detrimental consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12721
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2023


  • affective polarization
  • ritical social psychology
  • de-polarization interventions
  • intergroup relations
  • prejudice
  • political polarization


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