Anthony Fowler (Working Group in Political Psychology and Behavior, WoGPoP)


Friday, March 12, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom - see below

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Today's presenter

Anthony Fowler (University of Chicago), "Learning from the Opposition"


These are polarized times, we are told, ones in which learning and persuasion across party lines are nearly impossible. A number of influential studies report that Americans have become so partisan that they respond negatively to arguments advanced by their political opponents, eager to differentiate themselves from people with whom they do not only disagree, but who they actively despise. In this paper, we show that the findings supporting these bleak conclusions derive from incomplete experimental designs and a particular measurement strategy. In our own experiments that vary information about both parties’ positions simultaneously and that solicit continuous, rather than discrete, policy positions, we find that even the most committed partisans positively update their beliefs in response to positions from the opposition party. Partisans are not resolutely committed to disagreement, per se. Rather, they openly consider information and arguments from their opponents.

The Working Group in Political Psychology and Behavior (WoGPoP) is an interdisciplinary forum for the presentation and discussion of current research that uses a psychological and empirical orientation to examine the micro-foundations of citizen and elite behavior. Our topics include but are not limited to identity, emotion, culture, beliefs, preferences (including public opinion and individual preferences), rationality, norms, cognition, group dynamics, ethnic politics, context effects, attribution, information, bargaining and trust. This is a methodologically plural forum open to faculty, graduate students, and other members of the academic community.

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