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In one set of studies, Ryan finds that people can think of both economic and noneconomic issues in moral terms, and that when they do so, they resist compromises on those issues. It also turns out that liberals and conservatives are about equally likely to “moralize” politics—they just moralize different facets of politics. This research was featured in Pacific Standard Magazine.

In a separate set of studies conducted with David Broockman of Stanford University, Ryan finds that citizens are considerably more likely to express their views on legislation to elected officials when the elected official belongs to the same party as the citizen. This pattern points to another way in which elected officials live in a sort of bubble, insulated from the opinions of people who disagree with them. This research was covered in Washington Monthly.

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