The tendency to see life as zero-sum exacerbates political conflicts. Six studies (N = 3223) examine the relationship between political ideology and zero-sum thinking: the belief that one party's gains can only be obtained at the expense of another party's losses. We find that both liberals and conservatives view life as zero-sum when it benefits them to do so. Whereas conservatives exhibit zero-sum thinking when the status quo is challenged, liberals do so when the status quo is being upheld. Consequently, conservatives view social inequalities--where the status quo is frequently challenged--as zero-sum, but liberals view economic inequalities--where the status quo has remained relatively unchallenged in past decades--as such. Overall, these findings suggest potentially important ideological differences in perceptions of conflict--differences that are likely to have implications for understanding political divides in the United States and the difficulty of reaching bipartisan legislation.
Davidai, Shai, and M. Ongis. "The Politics of Zero-Sum Thinking: The Relationship Between Political Ideology and the Belief That Life Is a Zero-Sum Game." Science Advances 5, no. 12 (2019): eaay3761.
Each author name for a Columbia Business School faculty member is linked to a faculty research page, which lists additional publications by that faculty member.
Each topic is linked to an index of publications on that topic.