This Independent Study examines the relationship between political satire and affective polarization. Affective polarization is a newly growing form of political polarization wherein partisans are polarized based on mutual dislike for opposing partisans rather than ideological disagreements. Political news has been linked to this recent trend in polarization. Over the past two decades, political scientists have taken an interest in investigating the impact of political satire programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report through the same lens as traditional political news. These satirical news programs implement satire, a more complex form of comedy that can require more cognitive processing and can produce a variety of viewing effects. This projects looks into how orientation of The Colbert Report and partisanship influences one’s affective response to viewing a clip from The Colbert Report. Drawing from past research, I establish a dual moderating hypothesis which predicted that conservatives under the entertainment orientation and liberals under the information orientation would experience higher affective polarization. I utilize an experimental research design to test my hypotheses. Results showed that liberals did not experience different levels of affective polarization under different orientations, and that conservatives experienced a stronger affective response under the entertainment orientation.


van Doorn, Bas


Political Science


American Politics | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Influence and Political Communication


Polarization, Public Opinion, Media, Satire, Experimental Research

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2018 Jeffrey J. Skoroda