Think pieces

Same flag, poles apart

Is Old Glory now a political nudge?

As political polarisation intensifies, it seems even the US flag can trigger different reactions depending on your ideology.

Tom Jacobs, writing in the Pacific Standard, points to new research (from our very own Monash University) that suggests exposure to the stars and stripes results in both Democrats and Republicans intensifying support for their respective parties and positions.

Participants were asked to complete an online survey for a fictional research company. Having identified themselves as either ‘red’ or ‘blue’ politically, they went on to fill out the forms – half of which had a colour picture of the American flag at the top of the page.

 Those seeing the flag showed increased support for their own party but not the other side.More research is needed to understand how this mechanism works, but it does suggest that even a symbol of unity can produce very different behaviours depending on your point of view.

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