Getting Partisans To Hearken to One One other Can Cut back Political Polarization

In new analysis, Guglielmo Briscese and Michèle Belot discover that reminding Individuals of shared values can open strains of communication and assist cut back political polarization.


In keeping with a worldwide survey by Ipsos performed earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic, most individuals consider that their societies are divided and that this division has worsened up to now ten years. This regarding pattern appears to be supported by a number of research documenting a rise in “affective” polarization and partisan animosity, particularly in the US, which implies that strange Individuals view their fellow residents as hypocritical, egocentric, and close-minded.

To handle these considerations, numerous initiatives, reminiscent of “One Small Step” and “Braver Angels,” have emerged to bridge the partisan divide amongst Individuals. These applications convey collectively folks of various political affiliations in workshops, debates, or one-on-one conversations. There may be some anecdotal proof suggesting that these initiatives are efficient in selling dialogue and understanding, and social psychologists and economists have proven that contact between people with opposing views can bridge variations and cut back prejudice. 

In gentle of those worrying tendencies in political polarization and the wealth of proof on the potential advantages of intergroup contact, a query arises: Why have we not been profitable in bridging the divide?

One of many most important the reason why we battle to bridge the divide is that we don’t usually work together with individuals who maintain totally different beliefs than ours. Within the U.S., for instance, many individuals dwell in areas the place most of their neighbors share their political beliefs, which limits their alternatives to satisfy folks with opposing viewpoints. This insularity is much more obvious on-line, the place algorithms are designed to point out us content material that aligns with our present beliefs and pursuits.

Nevertheless, even when alternatives for interplay do come up, they might not be helpful if each events really feel that they haven’t any widespread floor on basic values. In these circumstances, merely encouraging dialogue might not be sufficient to foster mutual understanding and cooperation. To bridge the divide, it’s essential to search out methods to attach with others throughout political and social variations, with an emphasis on shared values and objectives.

To higher perceive how you can bridge the divide between folks with totally different political opinions, we performed a examine with a consultant pattern of two,507 Individuals. Individuals got the chance to take heed to recordings of their fellow residents expressing their views on polarizing public insurance policies: immigration, abortion legal guidelines, and gun possession legal guidelines. In our examine, we additionally examined whether or not emphasizing shared values might assist to bridge variations. We divided members into two therapy teams and in contrast them to a management group that acquired no further data. Individuals in therapy group 1 had been instructed that the individuals who recorded the audio recordsdata shared their similar preferences on primary norms of conduct, reminiscent of saying, “thanks” and “please” and respecting social etiquette. These in therapy group 2 had been instructed that they shared the identical human rights values with the audio system, reminiscent of the best to life, liberty, and safety, and the significance of not being held in slavery or being disadvantaged of their property arbitrarily. 

Our examine discovered that almost all of Individuals (greater than two-thirds) are open to listening to views that differ from their very own. Apparently, the remedies we examined didn’t considerably enhance this already excessive degree of willingness to hear.

Whereas within the combination, views on the polarizing insurance policies of immigration, abortion legal guidelines, and gun possession legal guidelines didn’t change considerably after members listened to recordings of individuals with opposing views, 10% of people did report altering their opinions.

We additionally discovered that emphasizing widespread floor might help cut back polarization, notably on the subjects of abortion legal guidelines and, to some extent, immigration. Our outcomes confirmed that extra excessive opinions tended to shift in the direction of the middle when members had been reminded of shared values and beliefs.

These findings counsel that whereas altering general public opinion on polarizing points could also be difficult, encouraging people to search out widespread floor and emphasizing shared values could possibly be an efficient strategy to cut back polarization and promote larger understanding and cooperation between folks with totally different political opinions.

In at present’s world, the place people with opposing views usually keep away from communication each on-line and offline, bridging the hole on necessary insurance policies can appear to be an insurmountable problem. Nevertheless, our examine confirms the concept when people are inspired to search out widespread floor, contact might be efficient in altering views. That is true whether or not the shared values are associated to human rights or extra trivial etiquette guidelines.

The excellent news is that our examine discovered that most individuals are open to listening to others with totally different views, and a major proportion of individuals are keen to vary their opinions after partaking with these they disagree with. Importantly, we additionally discovered that emphasizing widespread floor can cut back polarization on polarizing insurance policies reminiscent of immigration and abortion legal guidelines.

These findings present hope for these working to cut back political polarization. Interventions that facilitate voluntary engagement between people with totally different views and spotlight shared values could also be efficient in bridging the partisan hole. In the end, selling open communication and discovering widespread floor could also be key to selling larger understanding and cooperation between people with various political opinions.

Articles symbolize the opinions of their writers, not essentially these of the College of Chicago, the Sales space College of Enterprise, or its school.

Originally posted 2023-05-25 10:00:00.


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