Two studies (one preregistered) of Americans (N = 2200) drawn from a nationally representative panel show that both Democrats and Republicans personally value core democratic characteristics, such as free and fair elections, but severely underestimate opposing party members’ support for those same characteristics. Democrats estimate that the average Democrat values democratic characteristics 56% (in Study 1) and 77% (in Study 2) more than the average Republican. In a mirror image, Republicans estimate that the average Republican values democratic characteristics 82% (in Study 1) and 88% (in Study 2) more than the average Democrat. In turn, the tendency to believe that political ingroup members value democratic characteristics more than political outgroup members is associated with support for anti-democratic practices, especially among Republicans. Results suggest biased and inaccurate intergroup perceptions may contribute to democratic erosion in the United States.
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