Throw Them All in One Bag

Polarised Perception of Homogenous Outparty Camps

EPSA conference paper. June 24, 2023


This is the first year paper for my Ph.D. at TU Chemnitz. I was able to present it for the first time this year at EPSA in Glasgow. The paper is still being worked on, with the goal to submit it by end of 2023, so feedback is very much welcome!


Polarisation in multi-party systems is a complex matter. Compared to the classic but rare two-party case in the US, there are more points of reference between which ideological differences and affect can occur. Recent approaches considered groups of favoured and unfavoured parties, but continue to treat all parties individually. I argue that a perception of political camps, consisting of multiple ideologically close parties, plays a crucial role in how citizens perceive the ideological positions of parties. Applying the concept of outgroup homogeneity from psychology to party politics, I assume that opposing parties are perceived as ideologically more homogenous than those on one’s own side of the political spectrum. Using data from the fifth wave of the Comparative Studies of Election Surveys, I analyse how the perception of homeogenous party camps depends on party affiliation and affect. Results show that the outcamp is seen as less differentiated with increasingly negative feeling towards it. I conclude that the concept of outgroup homogeneity has potential to help us understand the mechanisms of polarisation generally, and in multi-party systems specifically.



Conference Paper