Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-26pbs Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-24T03:31:13.451Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Political Competition, Partisanship, and Interpersonal Trust Under Party Dominance: Evidence from Post-Apartheid South Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2019

Ryan E. Carlin
Department of Political Science, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA30302, USA, e-mail:
Gregory J. Love
Department of Political Science, University of Mississippi, University, MS38677, USA, e-mail:
Daniel J. Young*
Social and Behavioral Sciences, Miami University, Oxford, OH45056, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:


How does single-party dominance influence interpersonal trust? We draw on evidence from trust games played by more than 2,000 subjects in South Africa, where, since Apartheid, race-based social enmity has persisted under democratic competition characterized by single-party dominance. We find that partisan-based trust discrimination is most pronounced for those who identify with the main opposition party and is driven by strong distrust of rival partisans. These findings underscore how electoral competition, in general, shapes trust across party lines and suggests one-sided competition, in particular, has asymmetrical effects between parties in dominant party systems. Moreover, this study provides additional evidence regarding the relative weights of trustworthiness stereotypes tied to partisanship and race.

Research Article
© The Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Berg, J., Dickaut, J. and McCabe, K. 1995. Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History. Games and Economic Behavior 10(1):122142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bossuroy, Thomas and Selway, Joel. 2011. Social Divisions and Interpersonal Transfers in India. In OECD Conference on Social Cohesion and Development in Paris, January, 2011.Google Scholar
Brewer, Marilynn B. 1999. The Psychology of Prejudice: Ingroup Love and Outgroup Hate? Journal of Social Issues 55: 429444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burns, Justine. 2006. Racial Stereotypes, Stigma and Trust in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Economic Modeling 23(5): 805821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carlin, Ryan E. and Love, Gregory J.. 2013. The Politics of Interpersonal Trust and Reciprocity: An Experimental Approach. Political Behavior 35(1):4363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carlin, Ryan E. and Love, Gregory J.. 2018. Political Competition, Partisanship and Interpersonal Trust in Electoral Democracies. British Journal of Political Science 48(1): 115139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carlin, Ryan E., Love, Gregory J., and Young, Daniel J.. 2019. Replication Data for: Political Competition, Partisanship, and Interpersonal Trust under Party Dominance: Evidence from post-Apartheid South Africa. Journal of Experimental Political Science. Harvard Dataverse. doi: 10.7910/DVN/UZJCO1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Kadt, Daniel. 2017. Voting Then, Voting Now: The Long-Term Consequences of Participation in South Africa’s First Democratic Election. Journal of Politics 79(2):670687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Kadt, Daniel and Larreguy, Horacio A.. 2018. Agents of the Regime? Traditional Leaders and Electoral Politics in South Africa. Journal of Politics 80(2):382399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Kadt, Daniel and Lieberman, Evan S.. 2017. Nuanced Accountability: Voter Responses to Service Delivery in Southern Africa. British Journal of Political Science. doi: 10.1017/S0007123417000345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fehr, Ernst, Fischbacher, Urs, Rosenbladt, Bernhard von, Schupp, Jürgen, and Wagner, Gert G.. 2003. A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Surveys. IZA Discussion Paper No. 715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gibson, James L. 2006. Do Strong Group Identities Fuel Intolerance? Evidence from the South African Case. Political Psychology 27(5):665705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gibson, James L. and Gouws, Amanda. 2000. Social Identities and Political Intolerance: Linkages within the South African Mass Public. American Journal of Political Science 44(2): 278292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haile, Daniel, Sadrieh, Abdolkarim and Verbon, Harrie A. A.. 2008. Cross-Racial Envy and Underinvestment in South African Partnerships. Cambridge Journal of Economics 32(5): 703724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hardin, Russell. 2006. Trust. Cambridge, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
Harding, Robin and Michelitch, Kristin. 2018 Candidate Coethnicity, Rural Dwelling, and Partisanship in Africa. American Political Science Association Annual Conference Paper 2018.Google Scholar
Iyengar, Shanto and Westwood, Sean. 2015. Fear and Loathing across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization. American Journal of Political Science 59(3):690707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, Noel D. and Mislin, Alexandra A.. 2011. Trust Games: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Economic Psychology 32:865889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levendusky, Matthew S. 2018. Americans, Not Partisans: Can Priming American National Identity Reduce Affective Polarization? Journal of Politics 80(1):5970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martini, Sergio and Torcal, Mariano. 2019. Trust Across Political Conflicts: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Divided Societies. Party Politics 25(2):126129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McClendon, Gwyneth H. 2016. Race and Responsiveness: An Experiment with South African Politicians. Journal of Experimental Political Science 3(1):6074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McConnell, Christopher, Margalit, Yotam, Malhotra, Neil and Levendusky, Matthew. 2018. The Economic Consequences of Partisanship in a Polarized Era. American Journal of Political Science 62(1):518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Michelitch, Kristin. 2015. Does Electoral Competition Exacerbate Interethnic or Interpartisan Economic Discrimination? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Market Price Bargaining. American Political Science Review 109: 4361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moehler, Devra and Lindberg, Staffan. 2009. Narrowing the Legitimacy Gap: Turnovers as a Cause of Democratic Consolidation. Journal of Politics 71(4):14481466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Riker, William H. 1983. Political theory and the Art of Heresthetics. In Political Science: The State of the Discipline, Finifter, Ada. W. (ed). Washington: American Political Science Association.Google Scholar
Rousseau, Denise M., B., SimRonald S. Burt, Sitkin and Camerer, Colin 1998. Not so Different after All: A Cross-Discipline View of Trust. Academy of Management Review 23:393404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Samuels, David and Zucco, César Jr. 2014. The Power of Partisanship in Brazil: Evidence from Survey Experiments. American Journal of Political Science 58(1):212225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sartori, Giovanni. 1976. Parties and Party Systems: A Framework for Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Sunstein, C.R. 2014. Partyism. University of Chicago Legal Forum 2015(2): 126.Google Scholar
Weghorst, Keith. 2018. Activist Origins of Political Ambition: Opposition Candidacy in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes. Unpublished monograph.Google Scholar
Westwood, Sean J., Walgrave, Shanto Iyengar Steffan, Leonisio, Rafeal, Miller, Luis and Stribjis, Oliver. 2018. The Tie that Divides: Cross-National Evidence of the Primacy of Partyism. European Journal of Political Research 57: 333354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Carlin et al. supplementary material

Online Appendix

Download Carlin et al. supplementary material(File)
File 2 MB
Supplementary material: Link

Carlin et al. Dataset