Your political identity matters when looking for a job, even at workplaces that are seemingly nonpartisan. In fact, according to new study, one's political tendencies can shape potential employers' opinions of candidates more than any other trait traditionally associated with discrimination.
Stanford University researchers found that participants were biased against those with differing political beliefs to an even greater extent than those of a different race or religion. Tensions across ideological lines surpass tensions spurred by racial biases, and Americans are "distrustful of those who are not politically similar."
In one test, researchers examined how political opinions influenced nonpolitical situations by analyzing how 1,000 people viewed the résumés of students competing for scholarships. The résumés "included racial cues — 'president of the African American Student Association' — while others had political ones — 'president of the Young Republicans,'" the researchers report.
While race did influence the reviewers' perceptions of the candidates, the impact of partisanship was much more significant. Candidates picked students with the same political affiliation "80% of the time even when the candidate from the other party had stronger academic credentials."
In another experiment, researchers organized a "trust game" with 800 participants, in which some players were given money and instructed they could give some, all, or no money to another player. Researchers found that participants gave "significantly larger amounts when they were playing with someone who shared their party group identity."
The increasingly deep ideological divide has drawn geographical boundaries, as well. In his landmark 2008 book The Big Sort, Bill Bishop described America as a place that, though increasingly diverse, is also more divided than ever, as "the places where we live are becoming increasingly crowded with people who live, think, and vote like we do."
Americans are becoming so entrenched in like-mindedness that common ground seems increasingly difficult to find, as evidenced by the fact that this Congress is both the most polarized and least productive in history.
If that fact hasn't already raised eyebrows, here's hoping that Stanford's research do. One's political beliefs shouldn't overshadow a candidate's competency or qualifications. But unfortunately, they might, at least in some cases.