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Seeing Red (and Blue): Effects of Electoral College Depictions on Political Group Perception


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Abraham M. Rutchick, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330 [e-mail:].


Colored maps depicting electoral results may exacerbate perceptions of polarization, rather than merely reflecting them. Participants viewed maps of state-by-state Presidential election results that were either Electoral (red/Republican or blue/Democrat) or Proportional (purples that proportionally reflected each group's support). Half of the maps also displayed state-level numeric electoral results. Participants viewing Electoral maps perceived the nation as more politically divided, stereotyped the political beliefs of residents of various states more, and saw people holding views in the political minority as less agentic and less likely to vote. These differences occurred even in the presence of numeric data. Implications of these findings for intergroup perception in several domains are discussed, including the impact of electoral depictions on political campaigns and elections.