“Bridging the Divide: Can Effective Political Communication Reduce Polarization?” Robb Willer, Stanford University
AMERICAN & COMPARATIVE POLITICAL BEHAVIOR WORKSHOP
Abstract: Attitude polarization and intergroup antagonism threaten democratic processes in a number of ways. Though political animosity in the U.S. has reached historic levels, we find that moral arguments - carefully crafted to fit the values of a given audience - can change attitudes on contested issues like same-sex marriage, national health insurance, and military spending. Together with other research, these findings highlight both the scarcity and value of perspective-taking for political communication and coalition-building.
Robb Willer is a professor of sociology, psychology and organizational behavior at Stanford University. His research shows how moral values, typically a source of ideological division, can also be used to bring people together. His political research has investigated various topics, including racial prejudice, economic inequality, Americans’ views of climate change, and the effects of different protest tactics on public opinion. Willer’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vox, and Scientific American.