Ep 270: We Are Polarized. Here’s What We Can Do About It

MichaelSocial Psychology2 Comments

Why Group Polarization Occurs

The US just had a very contentious election which showed us, if nothing else, that we are a divided nation. How did we become this way? In this episode I talk about group polarization – how it happens and what we can do about it. Along the way, I’ll talk about Moral Reframing – and idea researched by Robb Willer and the idea of “emotional correctness” that Sally Kohn suggests is the way that she, a gay woman, is able to get along in a very conservative workplace. The wonderful You Are Not So Smart blog has a great article on how we can better argue when we know we’re talking with someone who is on the “opposite side of the fence” politically.

Resources for this Episode

  • How to bridge the political divide with better moral arguments
  • Mental Health Professionals: Why So Liberal?
  • Group Polarization: The Trend to Extreme Decisions
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Depolarizing People
  • Why your political discussions go nowhere, by Robb Willer
  • Sally Kohn: Let’s try emotional correctness
  • Special thanks to The Psych Files Facebook members, Timm Allen, Nic Green, Jacqui Edwards and Mark Spencer!
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    2 Comments on “Ep 270: We Are Polarized. Here’s What We Can Do About It”

    1. Hi Michael – another excellent podcast. What part do you think the erosion of defined boundaries plays in the problem. The ever connected media world we now all live in makes the definition of the ‘personal’ increasingly difficult, so we tend to look for support for our view in the collective. When you consider that we lived for the majority of our evolutionary past in small cooperative social groups, the situation we now have is bound to create uncertainty.

      Having said that the consumerist society requires the population to be dissatisfied and in a high level of stimulation so they will comfort themselves by consuming. How this level of arousal is achieved is irrelevant to the corporate system but manufactured conflict works very well.

      The Sally Kohn piece is simply a reiteration of the policy that women have traditionally use to diffuse aggression and gain control, normally of the ‘other’, but of course also the aggression within themselves. This must be one of the lasting taboos in society as a whole, that of female violence, in interesting subject for a podcast.

      PS – thank you for the mention you gave me!

    2. Ah, media been talkin’ ’bout polarized politics for a while now. Seems funny to me that it’s only polarized when Conservatives win (2000 & 2016) but not polarized (or at least not discussed) in 2008.

      Media been talkin’ ’bout fake news stories on NPR too. Not sure if this is brought up only when it favors Conservatives too or hurts Liberals.

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