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Political Psychology


Scholarship on the political gender gap in the US has attributed women’s political views to their greater compassion, yet individual-level measures of compassion have almost never been used to directly examine such claims. We address this issue using the only nationally representative survey to include psychometrically validated measures of compassion alongside appropriate political variables. We show that even though women are more compassionate in the aggregate than men in some respects, this added compassion does not explain the gender gap in partisanship. Female respondents report having more tender feelings towards the less fortunate, but these empathetic feelings are not associated with partisan identity. Women also show a slightly greater commitment to a principle of care, but this principle accounts for little of the partisan gap between men and women and has no significant relationship with partisanship after accounting for gender differences in egalitarian political values.


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