Paths to Polarization: The Development of Abortion Views in Two Generations of Elite American College Students

Hackett, Juliette [Browse]
Senior thesis


Armstrong, Elizabeth M. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Princeton University. Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Abortion is a salient and continually divisive issue in American politics, though it directly affects the minority of Americans and its occurrence has been steadily decreasing since the early 1980s. While polling organizations track trends in public opinion toward abortion and research indicates predictors of political views on abortion, relatively little research exists on the process by which individuals come to hold a view on the issue. This study relies on data from 28 in-person interviews with current students and alumni of Princeton University to examine the development of Americans’ views toward abortion. Specifically, interview data were analyzed to identify the factors that are most formative on an individual’s abortion view. The findings indicate that the most formative factors are family and related early environmental factors, education, and personal considerations and experiences. Worldview is the emergent link between these factors and abortion views. Implications for modern political polarization are discussed.

Supplementary Information