Political Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 157–175 | Cite as

Centrist by Comparison: Extremism and the Expansion of the Political Spectrum

Original Paper


While it is well understood that policy suggestions outside the range of mainstream debate are prevalent in various policy domains of American politics, their effects remain unexplored. In this paper, we suggest that proposing policies far from the political mainstream can re-structure voter perceptions of where alternatives lie in the ideological space. We provide support for this hypothesis using results from six survey experiments. We find that the introduction of extreme alternatives into the public discourse makes mainstream policies on the same side of the spectrum look more centrist in the public eye, thus increasing support for these moderate alternatives.


Public opinion Extremism Political psychology 

Supplementary material

11109_2016_9351_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (302 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 302 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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