John Gastil

John Gastil
Pennsylvania State University | Penn State · Department of Communication Arts and Sciences

About

185
Publications
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7,029
Citations
Citations since 2016
50 Research Items
3897 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
Introduction
Additional affiliations
August 2011 - present
Pennsylvania State University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (185)
Chapter
Full-text available
Research Methods in Deliberative Democracy is the first book that brings together a wide range of methods used in the study of deliberative democracy. It offers thirty-one different methods that scholars use for theorizing, measuring, exploring, or applying deliberative democracy. Each chapter presents one method by explaining its utility in delibe...
Article
Full-text available
Research Methods in Deliberative Democracy is the first book that brings together a wide range of methods used in the study of deliberative democracy. It offers thirty-one different methods that scholars use for theorizing, measuring, exploring, or applying deliberative democracy. Each chapter presents one method by explaining its utility in delibe...
Article
Full-text available
From July-August, 2020, the nonprofit organization Healthy Democracy convened a seven-week pilot test of an online Citizen Assembly on the state of Oregon's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This pilot project presented a unique research opportunity because its organizers had ten years of experience running the Citizens’ Initiative Review, a face-...
Article
Full-text available
This essay draws from game design to improve the prospects of democratic deliberation during government consultation with the public. The argument begins by reviewing the problem of low-quality deliberation in contemporary discourse, then explains how games can motivate participants to engage in demanding behaviors, such as deliberation. Key design...
Article
Full-text available
The deliberative quality of a minipublic often depends on its ability to inform the opinions of a larger public. The Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) aims to do so by producing a Citizens’ Statement, which we conceptualize as a deliberative form of mass media. Like any mass media, this Statement can only influence public opinion to the extent that...
Article
Full-text available
Deliberative theorists argue that democracies face an increasing legitimacy crisis for lack of effective representation and robust decision-making processes. To address this problem, democratic reformers designed minipublics, such as Citizens Juries, Citizens Assemblies, and Deliberative Polls. Little is known, however, about who trusts minipublics...
Article
Full-text available
In the twenty-first century, deliberative democracy has grown exponentially both as a subject of scholarship and a public practice. Though governments and civic organizations have sponsored thousands of deliberative forums across the globe, it remains unclear how strongly participants’ experiences of deliberative processes connect to their sense of...
Article
This paper tests the possibility of embedding the benefits of minipublic deliberation within a wider voting public. We test whether a statement such as those derived from a Citizens’Initiative Review (CIR) can influence voters who did not participate in the pre-referendum minipublic deliberation. This experiment was implemented in advance of the 2018...
Article
Deliberative scholarship is particularly well positioned to offer insight on our new digital reality. The papers in this Special Issue showcase both the methodological pluralism that flourishes in deliberative democracy studies and the productive collaborations across methodologies. This Special Issue shows how deliberative theory can place digital...
Article
Full-text available
Deliberative processes can alter participants’ attitudes and behavior, but deliberative minipublics connected to macro-level discourse may also influence the attitudes of non-participants. We theorize that changes in political efficacy occur when non-participants become aware of a minipublic and utilize its deliberative outputs in their decision ma...
Article
Existing systems for online civic engagement and public consultation need a better architecture if they are to realize the aspirations of deliberative democracy. To improve the design of such systems, we develop an empirical model of online civic engagement that connects common game mechanics to four key democratic processes and outcomes—inclusion,...
Chapter
Citizens across the world report a declining trust in democratic government and in one another. This chapter argues that the rise in alienation is due largely to the co-optation of democratic institutions. Alienation occurs when citizens feel disempowered, disconnected, and uninformed, and it leads them to opt out of civic life. Elections provide o...
Chapter
Deliberation encourages participants to reason with one another chapter 6 details how cultural biases often impede such reasoning. Cultural predispositions are an indication of people’s beliefs along two dimensions: hierarchical-egalitarian and individualism-collectivism. The first relates to whether government should regulate individual behavior a...
Chapter
Deliberative processes generally result in increased issue-specific knowledge for participants and can lead to opinion change as a result. The question asked in chapter 9 is: Does this translate into increased knowledge and opinion change for the wider public who these processes aim to assist? The chapter summarizes research suggesting that voters...
Chapter
Democratic citizens often feel disempowered by contemporary politics, but deliberative democracy provides an antidote by creating opportunities for the public to engage in meaningful decision making. This chapter introduces readers to a few of those projects, including America Speaks , Participatory Budgeting, and the CIR and provides insight from...
Chapter
Deliberative participation can have a profound impact on how citizens understand and enact political life. Chapter 10 reviews research that demonstrate this impact. Jury participation can increase the likelihood of voting, and studies of Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) and Australian Citizens’ Parliament participants find that deliberative experi...
Chapter
Democracy has always been an experiment in institutional design. From ancient Athens to the modern jury, democratic governance abounds with attempts to introduce citizens into governing processes. As chapter 2 shows, many of these institutional innovations, however, have been replaced with replicas that do little to empower the public. Even elite i...
Chapter
Chapter 7 discusses how deliberative processes like the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) must contend with the same strategic tactics that diminish the integrity of the wider governing system. This chapter tells the story of how CIR organizers lobbied for its permanent implementation and fended off opponents who were wary that it would undermine t...
Book
Concerned citizens across the globe fear that democracy is failing them, but civic reformers are crafting new tools that bring back into politics the wider public and its capacity for reason. This book spotlights one such innovation—the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR). Each review gathers a random sample of twenty voters to study a statewide ball...
Chapter
Chapter 8 reviews the 2012 Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), which faced a problem common to contemporary elections: the influence of money. That year, participants studied Measure 82, which would have legalized non-tribal casinos in Oregon. Well-funded casino lobbyists represented the advocates of the measure and tribal members, who themselves op...
Chapter
Through interviews with the civic innovators responsible for bringing these civic innovations into existence, chapter 4 recounts the development of Citizens’ Juries and the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR). Since the 1970s, Citizens’ Juries have convened a sample of approximately twenty-four citizens, reflective of the demographics of the communit...
Chapter
The book’s conclusion details how the Citizen’s Initiative Review (CIR) exemplifies the possibility for democratic reform. This chapter draws on the stories of several deliberative reforms to exemplify their possibilities and pitfalls. Tough some attempts at institutionalization have fallen flat, the CIR has expanded from a pilot in Oregon to a new...
Chapter
Chapter 5 tells the story of the first official Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) through the eyes of one of its participants, Marion Sharp. The CIR asked twenty-four demographically stratified voters to review an Oregon ballot measure that increased mandatory minimum sentencing for repeat sexual offenses and driving under the influence of intoxica...
Article
Although successive generations of digital technology have become increasingly powerful in the past 20 years, digital democracy has yet to realize its potential for deliberative transformation. The undemocratic exploitation of massive social media systems continued this trend, but it only worsened an existing problem of modern democracies, which we...
Preprint
Though successive generations of digital technology have become increasingly powerful in the past twenty years, digital democracy has yet to realize its potential for deliberative transformation. The undemocratic exploitation of massive social media systems continued this trend, but it only worsened an existing problem of modern democracies, which...
Preprint
Full-text available
Though successive generations of digital technology have become increasingly powerful in the past twenty years, digital democracy has yet to realize its potential for deliberative transformation. The undemocratic exploitation of massive social media systems continued this trend, but it only worsened an existing problem of modern democracies, which...
Article
A large body of work shows that reasoning motivated by partisan cues and prior attitudes leads to unreflective decisions and disparities in empirical beliefs across groups. Surprisingly little research, however, has tested the limits of motivated reasoning. We argue that the publicly circulated findings of deliberative minipublics can spark a more...
Article
This study extends a model of political knowledge distortion by tracing the influence of cultural orientations, information exposure, and prior beliefs on changes in knowledge distortion and issue attitudes during the 2010 Oregon general election. Results show strong associations between voters’ cultural orientations and their knowledge distortion...
Article
Experiments are essential to the practice of democratic deliberation, which itself is an experimental remedy to the problem of self-governance. This field, however, is constrained by the impossibility of conducting ecologically valid experiments that take into account the full complexity of deliberative theory, which spans different levels of analy...
Article
Deliberative democracy has been the main game in contemporary political theory for two decades and has grown enormously in size and importance in political science and many other disciplines, and in political practice. The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy takes stock of deliberative democracy as a research field, as well as exploring and c...
Article
This special issue explores the theoretical and practical prospects for creating legislative bodies via sortition. This preface summarizes the purpose of the issue and each of the articles therein.
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we review the intrinsic democratic flaws in electoral representation, lay out a set of principles that should guide the construction of a sortition chamber, and argue for the virtue of a bicameral system that combines sortition and elections. We show how sortition could prove inclusive, give citizens greater control of the politica...
Article
We present a novel explanation for the group polarization effect whereby discussion among like-minded individuals induces shifts toward the extreme. Our theory distinguishes between a quantitative policy under debate and the discussion’s rhetorical frame, such as the likelihood of an outcome. If policy and frame position are mathematically related...
Article
The biomedical literature describes clearly the direct mechanisms influencing weight gain, but broader public discourse on the subject is rife with misleading claims about the factors that cause people to gain or lose weight. We examine how such misleading claims can dilute accurate information to the point that people arrive at poor judgments abou...
Chapter
The discipline of communication encompasses a broad spectrum of humanistic, interpretive, and social scientific approaches to studying public deliberation. Early work engaged Habermasian theories of the public sphere, and rhetorical scholarship has foregrounded the deliberative threads running back to the discipline’s earliest history in ancient Gr...
Article
Full-text available
The authors make the case for creating a common architecture that interconnects otherwise disparate civic portals. They distinguish among core functions, complementary tools, and future features that could go into such a system, and consider its potential to create positive feedback loops that boost civic capacity and public legitimacy.
Article
Full-text available
We present a novel explanation for the group polarization effect whereby discussion induces shifts toward the extreme. In our theory, rhetorically-induced asymmetry preferentially facilitates majority formation among extreme group members thereby skewing consensus outcomes further in the extreme direction. Additionally, heuristic issue substitution...
Article
Recent advances in online civic engagement tools have created a digital civic space replete with opportunities to craft and critique laws and rules or evaluate candidates, ballot measures, and policy ideas. These civic spaces, however, remain largely disconnected from one another, such that tremendous energy dissipates from each civic portal. Long-...
Article
The Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) distinguishes itself by linking a small deliberative body to the larger electoral process. Since 2010, CIR citizen panels have been a legislatively authorized part of Oregon general elections to promote a more informed electorate. The CIR gathers a representative cross-section of two dozen voters for 5 d...
Article
Full-text available
At smaller social scales, deliberative democratic theory can be restated as an input-process-output model. We advance such a model to formulate hypotheses about how the context and design of a civic engagement process shape the deliberation that takes place therein, as well as the impact of the deliberation on participants and subsequent policymaki...
Chapter
An increasingly popular means of engaging the public uses small- scale deliberative forums, with anywhere from a dozen to hundreds or thousands of citizens meeting face- to- face or online to consider policy questions with important scientific dimensions. When designing such processes, policymakers and civic organizations need to consider how they...
Preprint
Most of the chapters in this volume look inside the Australian Citizens'Parliament (ACP) to study the practical and political challenges ofdeliberating together in an assembly of ordinary citizens. However, the ACPalso created the possibility for a kind of deliberation that can occur onlythrough mass communication.1The news coverage of the ACP had...
Article
Deliberative democratic theory has proposed the use of mini-publics to discern a more reflective public opinion, which can then be conveyed to policymakers or back to the wider public. In 2009, the legislature in the State of Oregon (USA) created one such process in the Citizens’ Initiative Review to help the public make informed choices on statewi...
Thesis
Full-text available
In deliberative-democratic theory, some authors have referred to a type of information—which is especially relevant to the interests, values, and personal characteristics of citizens—that when introduced into citizens’ policy discussions can foster democratic deliberation and beneficial outcomes of such deliberation. In this dissertation, that type...
Article
Deliberative theorists posit that highly structured face-to-face policy discussions can transcend ideological differences. By contrast, cultural cognitive theorists argue that people's cultural orientations constrain policy-relevant information processing and forestall the public's ability to reach consensus. Two studies examine whether deliberativ...
Chapter
Political deliberation is a form of collective decision-making about policy issues, in which a group thoroughly analyzes a problem, scrutinizes proposals that reflect a variety of perspectives, and then chooses a well-reasoned solution. The practice of deliberation is described from its development in ancient Greece and Rome through the medieval pe...
Article
Full-text available
Burkhalter et al.’s (2002) self-reinforcing model of democratic deliberation is well established, but lacks an account of legitimacy, which is a key element of most democratic-deliberative theories. We extend Burkhalter et al.’s model by proposing a new model called “symbolic-cognitive proceduralism,” which explains how democratic-deliberative proc...
Article
Public deliberation on the Internet is a promising but unproven practice. Online deliberation can engage large numbers of citizens at relatively low cost, but it is unclear whether such programs have substantial civic impact. One factor in determining their effectiveness may be the communicative features of the online setting in which they occur. W...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report provides an overall assessment of the quality of deliberation that took place during the 2014 Citizens’ Initiative Reviews, as well as the quality, utility, and impact of the resultant Citizens’ Statements those reviews produced. We focus on the 2014 CIR process but make reference to earlier findings from our reports that assessed the 2...
Article
Participedia (PP; http://www.participedia.net) is an open global knowledge platform for researchers and practitioners in the field of democratic innovation and public engagement. It represents an experiment with a new and potentially powerful way to conduct social science research: crowdsourcing data on participatory processes from researchers and...
Article
Full-text available
This paper lays out the practical and theoretical characteristics of formally empowered deliberation as a distinctive subset of deliberative processes. As part of a recent broad shift toward a more deliberative conception of democratic politics, participatory deliberative processes increasingly have been formally empowered as part of democratic gov...
Article
Full-text available
An overlooked context for citizen deliberation occurs when voters discuss their ballots with others while completing them at home. Voting by mail (or “absentee voting”) creates an opportunity for informal deliberation in the midst of exercising a basic form of citizen power. We examined this understudied context by blending prior theory with qualit...
Article
Full-text available
This paper lays out the practical and theoretical characteristics of formally empowered deliberation as a distinctive subset of deliberative processes. As part of a recent broad shift toward a more deliberative conception of democratic politics, participatory deliberative processes increasingly have been formally empowered as part of democratic gov...
Article
Full-text available
An overlooked context for citizen deliberation occurs when voters discuss their ballots with others while completing them at home. Voting by mail (or “absentee voting”) creates an opportunity for informal deliberation in the midst of exercising a basic form of citizen power. We examined this understudied context by blending prior theory with qualit...
Article
Full-text available
Considerable research on political discussion has focused on identifying its antecedents and outcomes. The rise of voting by mail provides an opportunity to examine the subject in a new context—one in which voters discuss their views and electoral choices with others while filling out their ballots. We explored the possibility that conventional pre...
Article
Full-text available
Democracy asks its citizens to make informed judgments about collective matters. Given the scale and complexity of modern polities, however, even the most attentive citizens cannot engage knowledgeably with most of the collective decisions that affect them. For this reason, democratic theorists increasingly conceptualize democratic systems as requi...
Article
Civil jury service should be a potent form of deliberative democracy, creating greater civic engagement. However, a 2010 seven-state study of jury service and voting records found no overall boost in civic engagement following service on civil juries, whereas jurors who served on criminal cases did show increased civic engagement following their ju...
Article
Full-text available
Initiatives and referenda permit citizens to vote directly on legislation, but voters often lack essential policy information when deciding whether to support the measures on their ballots. Since citizens often do not trust policy experts and political elites to provide trustworthy information, the State of Oregon (USA) created an institution to ad...
Article
Full-text available
The United States jury system is unique in the world in the frequency of its use and its symbolic significance as a democratic institution. As Neil Vidmar writes, the American jury “remains a strong and vibrant institution even as it suffers criticism and calls for reform.” If the jury is “the lamp that shows that freedom lives,” it is ironic that...
Article
This article examines the subjective experience of cognitive and behavioural change following public deliberation in two different nations. It examines short- and long-term survey data from two highly structured deliberative forums – the 2009 Australian Citizens’ Parliament and the 2010 Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review. Results showed increases i...
Article
Full-text available
Going beyond the traditional socioeconomic status model of political participation, this study examines pathways that lead to the sociopolitical incorporation of immigrants in the USA, with a focus on the role of communication socialization agents. Using a Current Population Survey sample of 7,626 first-generation immigrants in the USA, results sho...
Article
Objectives Voters develop not only different opinions about politics but also different sets of empirical beliefs. It is less clear how falsifiable beliefs take hold. In particular, it remains unclear as to whether news and campaign messages, moderated by political knowledge, drive the process, or whether deep-seated values principally sway voters'...
Article
Full-text available
The author argues that scholars can best advance public dialogue and deliberation by conducting systematic research on practical innovations that have the potential to improve political discourse. The author explains and justifies this position through a personal narrative that recounts formative experiences with debate, group dialogue, political c...
Article
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We investigate the stability and change of participation patterns in small groups by examining two longitudinal data sets at the individual and group levels of analysis. Rejecting the dichotomy between input and process models, we advance a view at the convergence of these two perspectives. We argue that stability in participation reflects input fa...
Article
Full-text available
The state of Oregon established the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) to improve the quality of public deliberation during direct elections. To better understand how a deliberative “mini-public” can influence electoral deliberation on complex ballot issues, we analyzed the 2010 CIR’s Citizens’ Statements as well as how the Oregon electorate used th...
Article
Full-text available
Voters often rely on cognitive shortcuts and partisan cues under low-information conditions. But it would be preferable for voters to adopt deliberative cues so that their low-information vote at least follows the judgements of similar highinformation voters. One such deliberative cue is the Oregon Citizens Initiative Review, where citizen panels e...
Article
Full-text available
Terrorism scholarship has revealed the importance of small groupsboth cells and leadership groupsin the proliferation of violence, yet this field remains only loosely connected to small group theory and research. There exists no systematic consideration of the role that group dynamics play in the disruption of terrorist activities. This article pro...
Article
Full-text available
In this introduction, we discuss the importance of innovation in advancing deliberative democratic theory and practice. Prior examples reviewed include the Citizens' Jury, the Deliberative Poll, the British Columbia Citizens' Assembly, and particularly the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review. We then preview the five essays that make up this special...
Chapter
Most of the chapters in this volume look inside the Australian Citizens' Parliament (ACP) to study the practical and political challenges of deliberating together in an assembly of ordinary citizens. However, the ACP also created the possibility for a kind of deliberation that can occur only through mass communication.1The news coverage of the ACP...
Article
Full-text available
Some prominent parent education theories in the United States and other Western countries base their educational viewpoint explicitly on democratic values, such as mutual respect, equality and personal freedom. These democratic parenting theories advocate sharing power with children and including them in family decision making. This study presents...
Article
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Direct-democratic processes have won popular support but fall far short of the standards of deliberative democracy. Initiative and referendum processes furnish citizens with insufficient information about policy problems, inadequate choices among policy solutions, flawed criteria for choosing among such solutions, and few opportunities for reflecti...