Leavers and Remainers after the Brexit referendum: More united than divided after all?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Since the British “Brexit referendum” in 2016, tensions between ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ voters have been growing. Using a novel analytical approach based on the full distribution of responses rather than their arithmetic means, Study 1 (N=1,506) showed on average 90% of overlap among Leavers and Remainers across a range of important variables. Even on the variables that are commonly used to illustrate how Leavers and Remainers differ (e.g., prejudice against immigrants), the amount of overlap was larger than 50%. In Study 2 (N=206), we demonstrate the importance of focusing on similarities between groups: Presenting the full distribution of responses from Leavers and Remainers rather than their mean differences caused more accurate perceptions of the actual differences and similarities between both groups and higher perceived intergroup harmony. We conclude that similarities between Leavers and Remainers are substantial and that our proposed approach may help to de-escalate tensions between these and other groups.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Early online date20 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2019


  • Brexit
  • Euroscepticism
  • human values
  • national identity
  • prejudice
  • similarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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