Mind The Gap! The Role of Political Identity and Attitudes in the Emergence of Belief Gaps

Magdalena Saldaña, Shannon McGregor, Tom Johnson

International Journal of Public Opinion Research

Political Processes

Identity, Misinformation, Survey

Education impacts belief gaps, but the effects are not evenly felt across issues or political affiliations

In this article for the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Shannon McGregor and her co-authors Magdalena Saldaña and Tom Johnson explore the relationships among political identity, education, and the prevalence of false beliefs about topics that have become politically polarized. To more fully understand the belief gap hypothesis, this study examines the effect of political identity, education, and partisan media consumption on the formation of attitudes and false beliefs. Using a two-wave, nationally representative online survey of the U.S., the authors assess people’s attitudes and beliefs toward climate change, on the one hand, and Syrian refugees, on the other. Building on previous studies, they demonstrate that the effect of one’s political identity on attitudes and false beliefs is contingent upon education, which appears to widen the belief gap in consort with political identity.