Researchers have known for a long time that people tend to be married to someone with similar political views much more often than would happen by chance. What they didn't know is if that happened because people chose their partners this way or if it happened for other reasons. This is well established for lots of other social factors race , religion , education level, etc. If you live in a city that is almost entirely Democrats, it's likely you will marry a Democrat because there are few other choices.
It can be hard to tell if politics influenced a choice after two people get together, because by then there are many reasons they have found they are compatible.
Is there a way to observe people before they get together and see if politics plays a role? To answer this, the researchers turned to online dating platforms. They conducted two studies: In the lab study, 1, participants filled out the survey with their own information including their political preferences. Then, the researchers showed them a variety of different profiles designed to control for other factors and test whether people were more interested in partners with similar political ideologies.
They found people were more likely to express interest in profiles of people with similar political beliefs. The researchers also tested action. The collected data from a large online dating site and analyzed how often people engaged through messaging one another. In other words, people tend to interact more with people who share their views. Homophily on various traits is known to influence our choices in partners. These results show that politics has about the same level of influence as education level people tend to date others with similar amounts of schooling.
It is about half as powerful as race. Beyond our romantic prospects, these results may hint that it is harder to resolve political differences than we might think.
It shows that, in some ways, we self-segregate and avoid people with different views. If we do that, we limit the conversations that help us empathetically see the other side. References Huber, Gregory A. Evidence from Online Dating Behavior.