Original Paper

Political Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 181-204

First online:

Social Networks and the Affective Impact of Political Disagreement

  • Bryan M. ParsonsAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of South Carolina Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Although few studies have explored the link between emotion and political talk, here I argue that political disagreement depolarizes emotional reactions via information exchanged in social networks. Analyzing data from the ANES 2008–2009 Panel Study, several conclusions are drawn. First, disagreement increases negative emotions and decreases positive emotions toward the in-party candidate, and also increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions toward the out-party candidate. In other words, disagreement depolarizes emotions toward political candidates. Second, the affective impact of disagreement does not vary with political knowledge. Finally, positive emotions toward the out-party candidate and negative emotions toward the in-party candidate reduce political interest, candidate issue placement accuracy, and political participation. Overall, this study develops important theoretical connections between affect and political talk that have implications for the value of political disagreement.


Social networks Emotion Affect Political disagreement Political sophistication Political participation