063 | Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Political Polarization


Author: Laura Victoria Lescano Charreau | Email: vikilescano@gmail.com

Laura Victoria Lescano Charreau , Leandro Casiraghi , Joaquín Navajas , Diego Golombek

1° Laboratorio Interdisciplinario del Tiempo (LITERA), Universidad de San Andrés
2° Laboratorio de Neurociencia de Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Sleep deprivation in humans results in a series of motor, sensory, emotional, and cognitive effects that appear to increase with the reduction of the hours of nighttime sleep. Sleep deficiency also leads to a general decline in mood followed by an increase in irritability and emotional volatility. Self-regulation and monitoring are also significantly affected, leading to emotional disinhibition and an increase in the intensity of responses to negative stimuli, as well as reductions in confidence, empathy, and humor. These cognitive effects of sleep deprivation suggest the hypothesis that it would also impact our opinions and emotions regarding political and moral issues.
The current research aims to evaluate whether sleep deprivation can intensify ideological and affective political polarization. To do this, we conducted a pilot study with a within-subjects design (N=44) to estimate the effects of a night of “short sleep” (4-5 hours) compared to a night of “normal sleep” (6-9 hours) on political and affective polarization. We found a trend toward increased polarization after nights of limited sleep, which we will attempt to confirm in a future study. In another ongoing pilot study, we are currently evaluating the effects of total sleep deprivation over a full night on these measures of polarization. The preliminary results indicate that when people are sleep deprived, they express more negative sentiments towards individuals identified with the opposing political party.