In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Positive and Negative Partisanship

  • Introduction
  • General Studies of Partisanship in the United States
  • Instrumental Partisanship
  • Expressive Partisanship
  • Social Identity Theory as a Framework for the Expressive Partisanship Model
  • Genetic and Personality Traits as Origins of Partisanship
  • Consequences of the Expressive Model
  • General Negativity (Bias) in Politics
  • Negative Identities in Social Psychology
  • Negative Partisanship in Political Science
  • Polarization’s Origins: Ideology or Affect?
  • In Favor of Strong Political Parties

Political Science Positive and Negative Partisanship
Alexa Bankert
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 September 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 September 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0282


Partisanship is omnipresent in American politics. Even in European multiparty systems and emerging democracies in Africa, attachments to political parties form easily, enduringly, and almost instantly. Given its potent role in impacting citizens’ political attitudes and behavior, it is no surprise that political scientists have dedicated a tremendous amount of effort and time to examining the origins, conceptualization, and measurement of partisanship. Yet important questions remain: Is partisanship purely psychological, or is it grounded in strong political attitudes and ideologies? Is partisanship influenced by political preferences, or does partisanship influence political preferences? And how does partisanship influence attitudes toward the out-party? This bibliography will introduce readings that address these questions. At the same time, this entry will go beyond the canonical work on positive partisan attachments and introduce the work on negative partisanship—the notion that citizens increasingly feel lukewarm about their own party and primarily define themselves by which political party they do not belong to. The reader can utilize this overview to identify new research avenues.

General Studies of Partisanship in the United States

Campbell, et al. 1980; Bartels 2000; and Lewis-Beck, et al. 2008 provide a general overview of partisanship’s role in influencing American voting behavior, political attitudes, and political participation, while Dalton and Weldon 2007 examine partisanship at its interaction with the political system. Campbell, et al. 1986 and Brady, et al. 1995 focus in particular on voting and political participation. Achen 1992 adds a more methodological note and summarizes general approaches to the study of partisanship.

  • Achen, Christopher H. “Social Psychology, Demographic Variables, and Linear Regression: Breaking the Iron Triangle in Voting Research.” Political Behavior 14.3 (1992): 195–211.

    General overview of the dominant paradigms used to study partisanship in the United States. Critical review of linear models of partisanship as well as demographic variables.

  • Bartels, Larry M. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior, 1952–1996.” American Journal of Political Science 44.1 (2000): 35–50.

    The relationship between partisanship and American voting behavior has strengthened over time.

  • Brady, Henry, Sidney Verba, and Kay Lehman Schlozman. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

    The resource model of political participation. The authors focus on socioeconomic factors, rather than partisanship per se, to explain levels of political participation.

  • Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes. The American Voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

    Pioneering work on the role of partisanship in American political behavior. First published 1960.

  • Campbell, James E., Mary Munro, John R. Alford, and Bruce A. Campbell. “Partisanship and Voting.” Research in Micropolitics 1 (1986): 99–126.

    Focuses especially on the relationship between voting and partisanship in terms of its strength and causal direction.

  • Dalton, Russell J., and Steven Weldon. “Partisanship and Party System Institutionalization.” Party Politics 13.2 (2007): 179–196.

    Examines the relationship between partisanship, political socialization, and the party system’s age and stability.

  • Lewis-Beck, Michael S., William G. Jacoby, Helmut Norpoth, and Herbert F. Weisberg. The American Voter Revisited. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.

    Updated and expanded version of Campbell, et al. 1980.

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