Media, citizens, and politicians seem to disagree about what is important. Psychological tendencies to over-estimate the similarity of others to one’s self means that the public and politicians are quite poor at estimating what the public thinks, and as a result, what government should do.
Disagreement is the core of politics. If everyone agreed, we would have little societal need for campaigns, elections, or any other democratic institution. But the increasing divisiveness of politics is worrisome. Why do we seem to disagree so much and feel that disagreement so strongly? New research offers some answers.
The public holds views of government activity that largely appear incoherent. This is problematic if we expect democracy to function as a direct translation of public views into policy, but can work if elites can be trusted to act in a more coherent fashion than the public they represent. Unfortunately, we don't trust our government.
The fiscal cliff is a prime example of political leaders shirking their responsibilities – failing to debate and make enlightened policies – and taking advantage of our psychological predispositions toward partisan attachment for their own gain.
With the fiscal cliff debate looming large in Washington and on the national news agenda, there is increasing talk of the importance of political compromise. This call for putting aside differences and getting past polarization is, of course, nothing new. But is compromise what we really want?
For those with politically compatible social networks, holiday dinner offers a great time for uncontroversial bashing of political opponents. For those who find themselves surrounded by relations with different views from their own, political discussion can be thoroughly unpleasant. Here are five pointers for surviving political disagreement at Thanksgiving dinner.
Some psychoanalysts believe that Rorschach tests tell us about what is going on in our minds and what you see in two different maps of the 2012 election says a lot about how you perceive American polarization.
We often think that the other side in a political debate is trying to destroy America, or at least offering a dangerous alternative to our own views of the political good. Why do we think these things and what can we do about it?
The attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya has been the subject of considerable political conversation. Media coverage of the attack, and the ensuing response by the candidates, missed an interesting story about how people think about low-information incidents like the attack in Benghazi.
Recent protests across the world in response to an anti-Islamic internet video make clear that everyone around the world has opinions and those opinions matter – not just in their home country but everyone on earth. There is considerable worry about the polarized climate in contemporary American politics, but the polarization of global opinions is a far greater concern.
What has happened to Americans’ trust? While some might be quick to infer meaningful explanations for declining support in each of these institutions—that television has become too uncivilized or Congress to ineffective or public schools too expensive—such a summary is probably inadequate.
For polarization to occur, individuals have to develop more extreme views over the course of their lives or new generations have to hold more extreme and divided political viewpoints than earlier generations, or both.
Public support for the end goals of military conflict – often grand notions of peace, democracy, freedom, security, and so forth – must ultimately come to terms with the costs of war, found in dollars and, more importantly, in bodies.
So-called “social issues” are often seen as the bread and butter of political polarization: at any one time, large portions of the American electorate are supportive of them while similarly large portions are opposed. On same-sex marriage at least, polarization this is not.
A poll released this past week by the Pew Research Center finds that (1) there is a growing gap in public perceptions of federal, state, and local governments and (2) there are major partisan divides in these views. What should we make of these data?
Death panels, socialism, the end of Medicare. Misinformation about health care is abundant, and that isn’t the only area where U.S. politics churns up a lot of misperceptions. Who’s to blame when we get the facts wrong?
Culture is obsessed with youth: beauty treatments curb the signs of aging, literature evokes the innocence of youth, and young love is glorified for its lack of complication. But views of youths themselves tend to be negative and ephebiphobic: we see young people as threatening, ignorant, lazy, and disengaged. What’s the deal with that?
With the nation’s highest court deciding one of the most important legal cases in recent history, it is no surprise that it is making headlines. Despite a deep divide in public opinion over health care, the public sees the nine justices charged with making the final call on the ACA as a trusted institution. Do you trust the Court to make that decision? And should you?
Most news about the 2012 Republican primaries has focused on which candidates are faring well in which states. This focus on the levels of support for each of the Republican candidates misses a critically important part of those opinions and the larger primary election process —something that social psychologists call attitude strength.