Living around people with opposing political viewpoints affects your ability to form close relationships and may even change your personality, a study says.
The findings also could help explain why so many Americans are moving to areas that suit them politically, further segregating the nation into “red” and “blue” states, said lead researcher William Chopik, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.
Red states and blue states refer to those states of the US whose residents predominantly vote for the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.
And while living among folks of common ideology may reduce conflict and promote individual well-being, it also could be stifling healthy political discourse, Chopik pointed out.
“You might be happier if you’re a conservative and you move to a stereotypical conservative place, or a liberal to a liberal one, but maybe that’s one of the reasons we see all the deadlock and polarisation along party lines,” Chopik explained.
The study, published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, examined national survey data of 19,162 people.
The researchers looked at participants’ political orientation, ideological climate and personality measures such as anxiety and avoidance.
Living among politically dissimilar others, the study found, had a psychological effect on people.
These political “misfits” had difficulty depending on and accepting the viewpoints of others.
Further, rather than assimilate or alter their dispositions to be more similar to their neighbours, they withdrew from relationships.
“Because living among politically dissimilar others is associated with a reduced sense of belonging, ideological misfits may feel as though they cannot reliably depend on the people around them,” the study stated.
In the current political climate, Chopik said it is not uncommon for conservatives not to know any Hillary Clinton supporters, or for liberals not to know any Donald Trump supporters. This may be at least partly the result of political segregation.