Why is Thanksgiving Getting Shorter?

If you think Thanksgiving meals are getting tenser across the country, look to Dr. Keith Chen’s research for concrete proof. After experiencing increasingly partisan conversations both at work and at family gatherings, Chen was inspired to quantify and measure partisan divisions in part to start a conversation about what we can do to rectify them. By analyzing over 21 billion pings of smartphone data, Chen and his co-author, Ryne Rohla, found that in 2016, families that celebrated Thanksgiving across partisan lines cut their meals 30 to 50 minutes shorter than those who stuck with company with similar political beliefs. Chen is an Associate Professor of Economics the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Part of what inspired this research is my own experience of just increasingly partisan and difficult to avoid…conversations both at work and in extended family gatherings. I just thought ‘Oh my god, this has just become such a semi-regular, unavoidable, and somewhat painful part of my day to day life. This has to be true for people other than just me. Is there something we can do as social science researchers to quantify that, measure it, and hopefully then start a conversation about what we can do to rectify it?
— m. keith chen
Audrey Scagnelli