Beyond Polarization – Jason Jay

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay

From Technology Review

This past June, I attended a conference in New York City with colleagues from around the world. After our three days together, my European, Indian, and Latin American friends were a bit vexed. The conversation kept getting pulled into the lightning storm of American politics. We struggled to pay attention as our phones flooded with alerts about congressional primaries, Supreme Court decisions, executive orders, and the flurry of terrified, furious, indignant, or despairing comments ping-ponging between political extremes.

Over beers, a few of us “coastal liberal elite” academics and journalists huddled and commiserated about our extended family members in South Dakota, North Carolina, Florida, and Indiana. How could they deny the reality of Sandy Hook, climate change, and science in general? I suspect those same relatives are similarly confused—why are we so eager to support illegal immigrants, anti-police protests, and lawlessness in general?

This polarization is only increasing as we head to the midterm elections. With our country split into factions like anti-fascists, progressives, moderates, libertarians, evangelicals, and Trumpists, it’s increasingly difficult to know how to engage with others who don’t share our views.

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Just the facts: Information access can shrink political divide – Evan Apfelbaum & Erik Duhaime

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Ph.D. student Erik Duhaime

From The Hill

Political polarization in the U.S. is at its highest level in decades. This isn’t surprising, especially in the wake of the recent presidential election.

It’s hard to go on social media, much less cable news these days and not see reports that support one political side and vilify the other. Is there any hope for bringing the country closer together? We think so.

In a recent study, we found that the way information is presented can influence political polarization. When it is presented in a way that engages people in an objective analysis of the information at hand, political polarization can decrease. Yet when the same information provokes people to think about their relevant political preferences, people remain polarized.

In other words, people might moderate their views when they have more information on how a contentious policy works, but not if they’re busy thinking about what they want or why they want it.

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