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Group Polarization and 12 Angry Men

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Abstract

Deliberating groups, including juries, typically end up in a more extreme position in line with their predeliberation tendencies. A jury whose members are inclined, before deliberation, to find a defendant not guilty will likely render a verdict of not guilty; a jury whose members want to award punitive damages will likely produce an award higher than that of the median juror. The phenomenon of group polarization, found in many domains, stems from a combination of information pooling and peer pressure. The events portrayed in the film 12 Angry Men seem to defy the logic of group polarization, but the film nonetheless shows an acute psychological sense.

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... Overall, a comprehensive review of social psychology of small group deliberation (not specifically designed to test DD theory) as well as a variety of studies (specifically designed to test DD theory) concludes that there is " substantial evidence " that deliberation can lead to the benefits postulated by DD theory (Carpini et al., 2004). Perhaps the most widely discussed criticism of DD methods is that rather than arriving at a common good–based policy recommendation, DD will lead to group polarization (Sunstein, 2002Sunstein, , 2007). Group polarization is a phenomenon by which deliberators tend to move to more extreme positions in the direction of their own pre-deliberation opinions (Sunstein, 2002). ...
... Thus their prior opinions are not challenged and indeed grow more extreme. Polarization may occur also because of social comparison/peer pressure (the simple desire to be perceived favorably by the group), and confidence by corroboration (people gain confidence after feeling group support, so more extreme viewpoints can be expressed), (Sunstein, 2007 ). Under these circumstances, Sunstein suggests that sideswitching is unlikely in group deliberations (Sunstein, 2007). ...
... Polarization may occur also because of social comparison/peer pressure (the simple desire to be perceived favorably by the group), and confidence by corroboration (people gain confidence after feeling group support, so more extreme viewpoints can be expressed), (Sunstein, 2007 ). Under these circumstances, Sunstein suggests that sideswitching is unlikely in group deliberations (Sunstein, 2007). However, group polarization may not be a concern for some types of DD methods and steps can be taken to minimize it. ...
Article
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In a liberal democracy, policy decisions regarding ethical controversies, including those in research ethics, should incorporate the opinions of its citizens. Eliciting informed and well-considered ethical opinions can be challenging. The issues may not be widely familiar and they may involve complex scientific, legal, historical, and ethical dimensions. Traditional surveys risk eliciting superficial and uninformed opinions that may be of dubious quality for policy formation. We argue that the theory and practice of deliberative democracy (DD) is especially useful in overcoming such inadequacies. We explain DD theory and practice, discuss the rationale for using DD methods in research ethics, and illustrate in depth the use of a DD method for a longstanding research ethics controversy involving research based on surrogate consent. The potential pitfalls of DD and the means of minimizing them as well as future research directions are also discussed.
... Nowadays this is an eminent approach in political science, which spills over into other social sciences, such as anthropology geography and sociology. It is based partly on Discourse Ethics (Habermas 1990), and builds on the idea that public deliberation is the essential key of a new articulation between three democratic objectives: (i) the common good, (ii) justification and (iii) legitimacy (Cohen 1989;Elster 1998;Sunstein 2007). ...
... requirement if it is based on an oligarchic or dictatorial aggregation rule. A second well documented weakness is group polarization, meaning that the debates within a group tend to radicalize the opinion of the members of the group in the direction of the initially dominant opinion, regardless of the merits of this opinion (Sunstein 2007). This begs the question whether some aggregation rules are more or less sensitive to this polarization phenomenon. ...
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This paper describes an empiric study of aggregation and deliberation—used during citizens’ workshops—for the elicitation of collective preferences over 20 different ecosystem services (ESs) delivered by the Palavas coastal lagoons located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea close to Montpellier (S. France). The impact of deliberation is apprehended by comparing the collectives preferences constructed with and without deliberation. The same aggregation rules were used before and after deliberation. We compared two different aggregation methods, i.e. Rapid Ecosystem Services Participatory Appraisal (RESPA) and Majority Judgement (MJ). RESPA had been specifically tested for ESs, while MJ evaluates the merit of each item, an ES in our case, in a predefined ordinal scale of judgment. The impact of deliberation was strongest for the RESPA method. This new information acquired from application of social choice theory is particularly useful for ecological economics studying ES, and more practically for the development of deliberative approaches for public policies.
... Group polarization, or polarization for short, is not a new concept but has gained increasing relevance in the age of social media [20]. The phenomenon has been extensively researched by, among others, Cass Sunstein [28,29]. Polarization describes the tendency for people to develop more extreme views after deliberation within a group. ...
... Reasons behind polarization include a combination of peer pressure and the way information exchange is carried out within group settings [29]. One important aspect of this process is that individuals with a weak inclination towards one opinion are likely to be confronted with louder voices expressing a radicalized version of the same opinion. ...
Chapter
In this paper we look at different ways of modally defining properties related to the concept of balance in signed social networks where relations can be either positive or negative. The motivation is to be able to formally reason about the social phenomenon of group polarization, for which balance theory forms a network-theoretical underpinning. The starting point is a recently developed basic modal logic that axiomatizes the class of social networks that are balanced up to a certain degree. This property is not modally definable but can be captured using a deduction rule. In this paper we examine different possibilities for extending this basic language, in order to, first, be able to define frame properties such as balance and related properties such as non-overlapping positive and negative relations and collective connectedness as axioms, and, second, be able to define the property of full balance rather than balanced-up-to-a-degree. We consider extensions with both static modalities such as the universal and the difference modality, the intersection modality, and nominals known from hybrid logic, as well as dynamic global bridge modalities known from sabotage logic. Along the way we provide axioms for weak balance. Finally, to explore measures of how far a network is from polarization, we consider and compare variations of distance measures between models in relation to balance.
... This is one of many important negotiations in Middlemarch and we have chosen it because, in a few pages, Eliot efficiently offers insights into key negotiation principles and tactics while letting us understand the inner lives of her two negotiators. Literature often provides a unique glimpse into the motivations of negotiators and consequently can be used as a tool to teach and understand negotiation (e.g., Hackley 2007;Sunstein 2007) and strategic thinking in general (Mar and Oatley 2008;Kidd and Castano 2013;Chwe 2014;Read 2020). In the case of Middlemarch, we see both Bulstrode and Raffles make mistakes, but these are mistakes commonly made by even seasoned negotiators when under pressure. ...
Article
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We analyze a negotiation drawn from George Eliot’s great novel Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. Eliot is renowned as a perceptive chronicler of social interaction, and she understood the process of negotiation and its role in the community perhaps as well as anyone. The negotiation in question is between a wealthy banker and a former associate who sets out (or perhaps just ends up) blackmailing him. From this negotiation we draw insights into the importance of preparation and the prenegotiation, empathy, and the fostering of relationships (even when you would prefer not to); and the problems of focusing on one’s own BATNA rather than your counterparts’. We consider six key negotiation lessons for the fictional negotiator (and for us) and reflect on the difficulty of negotiations in which one's self‐regard is at issue in addition to material goods. We conclude with a brief account of how both fictional and “nonfictional” negotiations further our understanding of how to learn about and improve negotiation practice.
... Muchas veces los grupos toman conjuntamente decisiones más extremas que las que defendía inicialmente cada uno de sus miembros. También se ha determinado que los grupos tienden a amplificar los errores de sus miembros individuales, y son presa del efecto cascada, en el que los miembros tienden a converger hacia las opiniones de los que hablaron o actuaron primero (SuNStEIN, 2007). El remedio, por tanto, resulta peor que la enfermedad. ...
Chapter
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Los sesgos cognitivos afectan negativamente la toma de decisiones en todas las esferas de la vida, incluyendo las decisiones de los jueces. La imposibilidad de eliminarlos por completo de la práctica del derecho, o incluso de controlar sus efectos, contrasta con el anhelo de que las decisiones judiciales sean el resultado exclusivo de un razonamiento lógico-jurídico correcto. Frente el efecto sistemático, recalcitrante y porfiado de los sesgos cognitivos, una posible estrategia para disminuir su efecto es enfocarse, no en modificar el comportamiento de los agentes judiciales, sino en moldear su entorno para que los sesgos tengan menos oportunidades de aparecer. En particular, es más provechoso concentrar los esfuerzos en identificar aquellas reglas procesales que faciliten o limiten el efecto de los sesgos. En este ensayo propongo un diálogo fructífero entre el derecho y la psicología que puede llevar a mejorar la calidad de los sistemas judiciales. La propuesta está basada en la creación de guías de práctica judicial que puedan servir de base para la creación de protocolos procesales que limiten en la medida de lo razonable sus efectos negativos y conduzcan a mejores decisiones judiciales.
... A survey of the psychological literature suggests the grounds for pessimism out-number those for optimism. People are often too quick to jump to conclusions from fragmentary evidence (Fiske & Taylor, 1991; weak "can-I-believe-this?" tests to agreeable claims and tough "must-Ibelieve-this?" tests to dissonant claims (Belsky & Gilovich, 2010), too prone to over-confidence (Moore & Healy, 2008;Lichtenstein, Fischhoff, & Phillips, 1982) and over-estimation of how much others share their views (Mullen et al., 1985;Ross, Green, & House, 1976), and too fond of seeking out the company of like-minded others (Sunstein, 2004) and, once in their company, of embracing increasingly extreme views (Myers & Lamm, 1976;Sunstein, 2007). Whether working individually or in groups, people are often susceptible to self-justifying cycles of reasoning that make them progressively more self-righteous and contemptuous of the competence and morality of the other side (Haidt, 2012). ...
Article
People often express political opinions in starkly dichotomous terms, such as “Trump will either trigger a ruinous trade war or save U.S. factory workers from disaster.” This mode of communication promotes polarization into ideological in-groups and out-groups. We explore the power of an emerging methodology, forecasting tournaments, to encourage clashing factions to do something odd: to translate their beliefs into nuanced probability judgments and track accuracy over time and questions. In theory, tournaments advance the goals of “deliberative democracy” by incentivizing people to be flexible belief updaters whose views converge in response to facts, thus depolarizing unnecessarily polarized debates. We examine the hypothesis that, in the process of thinking critically about their beliefs, tournament participants become more moderate in their own political attitudes and those they attribute to the other side. We view tournaments as belonging to a broader class of psychological inductions that increase epistemic humility and that include asking people to explore alternative perspectives, probing the depth of their cause-effect understanding and holding them accountable to audiences with difficult-to-guess views.
... However, Maurer's (2013) data showed no negative shift in attitudes. Further, group polarization is a phenomenon that specifically applies to deliberating groups, not to individuals making their own judgements separately (Sunstein, 2007). The activity Maurer (2013) tested focused on discussion, not deliberation. ...
Article
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This study presents a three-year replication and extension of Maurer’s (2013) evaluation of a classroom activity to reduce prejudice and discrimination. Students in six sections of an introductory family science course were assigned to one of three conditions and one of two target marginalized groups for a 3x2 design. Results differed significantly from those reported by Maurer (2013), and suggested that all three methods tested were equally effective in reducing prejudice and discrimination and that such changes were lasting. Additionally, a student participant served as a co-inquirer on this project, and her reflections on the process are included.
... Thus, homogenous groups create homogenous views. This kind of polarization stifles consensus-building in broader, more heterogeneous settings (Buchstein, 1997;Dahlberg, 2007;Sia et al., 1999Sia et al., , 2002Sunstein, 2001Sunstein, , 2007. ...
Article
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Is public debate on the Internet polarizing? Some scholars warn that the Internet is an ‘anti-commons’ where political positions are extreme, while others view the Internet as a moderating influence on political polarization. We examine polarization trends in a regional, Utah-based news website, with a random sample of 1768 comments over a two-year period. Focusing on the most contentious issue during this time—immigration—we find that extreme anti-immigrant sentiment decreases over time despite key political and religious events. We argue that emerging public spheres, like newspaper discussion forums, might reveal a general public inclination towards moderation during heated national and regional debate.
... One of the most significant is our use of experts to determine which of the 110 simulated cases shown to the nurses carried a signal of VLU and/or the need for compression therapy. Our use of formal consensus methods to gather their opinion was only a partial defence against social group biases such as groupthink (49) or social polarisation (50). We considered using the actual diagnoses and treatments noted in medical records, on the basis that these labels represent reliable and internally valid measures of the strength of the underlying signal.(51) ...
Article
Background: Judgements and decisions about venous leg ulcer management are characterised by uncertainty. Good judgements and reduced variations in practice require nurses to identify relevant "signals" in clinical encounters. Nurses, even experienced ones, vary in their ability to separate these signals from surrounding noise. Objectives: Examine specialist and generalist nurses' discrimination of clinical signals and noise when (i) diagnosing venous versus other causes leg ulceration, and (ii) starting multilayer compression therapy. Design: A signal detection analysis within a cross sectional survey. Settings: Four English NHS districts. Participants: Tissue viability specialist (n = 18) and generalist (district and practice nurses, n = 18) sampled from networks of nurses caring for people with leg ulcers. Mean age was 46 years, 78% had more than 10 years nursing experience. They worked on average 32.5 h per week, of which 10 h were spent caring for people with leg ulcers. Methods: 110 clinical scenarios based on anonymous patient data from a large clinical trial of compression therapy for leg ulceration. The scenarios were classed as either signal (venous leg ulcer present and/or compression therapy warranted, n = 57) or no signal cases (other kind of ulcer and/or compression therapy contraindicated, n = 53) by four experts. Nurses made diagnostic and treatment judgements for each scenario. A signal detection analysis was undertaken for each nurse. Measures of signal detection (d prime or d') and judgement tendency or bias (C) were computed. Differences between specialist and generalist nurses were tested for using the Mann Whitney U test and graphically explored using Receiver Operating Curves (ROC). Results: Specialists identified more true positive cases than the generalist nurses: 75% vs. 59% for the diagnostic judgement (p < 0.01) and 70% vs. 60% for the treatment judgement. They were significantly more sensitive to the signals present (d' 1.68 vs. 1.08 for the diagnostic judgement and 1.62 vs. 1.11 for the treatment judgement). Specialists exhibited a significantly higher bias towards initiating treatment (C = .81 vs. .56, p < 0.01) but this did not extend to their diagnostic judgements. Specialists also varied slightly less in their signal detection abilities. Conclusions: Nurse specialism was associated with better, but still variable, clinical diagnostic and treatment signal detection in simulated venous leg ulcer management.
... This enables them to support decisions that are more radical than they would normally make. Sunstein outlines three key reasons for group polarization [22]: ...
Article
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Key decisions in modern health care systems are often made by groups of people rather than lone individuals. However, group decision-making can be imperfect and result in organizational and clinical errors which may harm patients-a fact highlighted graphically in recent (and historical) health scandals and inquiries such as the recent report by Sir Robert Francis into the serious failures in patient care and safety at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust in the English NHS. In this article, we draw on theories from organization studies and decision science to explore the ways in which patient safety may be undermined or threatened in health care contexts as a result of four systematic biases arising from group decision-making: 'groupthink', 'social loafing', 'group polarization' and 'escalation of commitment'. For each group bias, we describe its antecedents, illustrate how it can impair group decisions with regard to patient safety, outline a range of possible remedial organizational strategies that can be used to attenuate the potential for adverse consequences and look forward at the emerging research agenda in this important but hitherto neglected area of patient safety research.
Article
This paper proposes different ways of modally defining properties related to the concept of balance in signed social networks where relations can be either positive or negative. The motivation is to be able to formally reason about the social phenomenon of group polarization based on balance theory. The starting point is a recently developed basic modal logic that axiomatizes the class of social networks that are balanced up to a certain degree. This property is not modally definable but can be captured using a deduction rule. In this work, we examine different possibilities for extending this basic language to define frame properties such as balance and related properties such as non-overlapping positive and negative relations and collective connectedness as axioms. Furthermore, we define the property of full balance rather than balanced-up-to-a-degree. We look into the complexity of the model checking problem and show a non-compactness result of the extended language. Along the way, we provide axioms for weak balance. We also look at a full hybrid extension and reason about network changes with dynamic modalities. Then, to explore the measures of how far a network is from polarization, we consider variations of measures in relation to balance.
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Group-induced shift effects observed on other response dimensions were extended to a simulated jury setting. Subjects first responded to eight hypothetical traffic cases which varied in the implication of guilt (high or low), then discussed half of these cases (two high guilt and two low guilt) in small groups, and finally responded again to all eight cases. As predicted, the simulated jury deliberations polarized the mean judgment of discussed cases. After discussing low guilt cases, subjects were, on the average, more extreme in their judgments of innocence and more lenient in recommended punishment, and after discussing high guilt cases shifted toward harsher judgments of guilt and punishment. These effects were not observed for cases which were not discussed.
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Two experiments examined the group polarization hypothesis. In Experiment I group discussion polarized the evaluations of six hypothetical faculty members, three described positively and three negatively. 'Good' faculty were rated and paid even more favorably after group interaction and contrariwise for 'bad' faculty. Experiment II separated subjects into groups which were conservative or liberal in attitudes regarding women. Subsequent discussion of statements regarding the role of women yielded an increase in the attitude gap between the conservative and liberal communities.
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How does jury deliberation affect the pre-deliberation judgments of individual jurors? In this paper we make progress on that question by reporting the results of a study of over 500 mock juries composed of over 3000 jury eligible citizens. Our principal finding is that with respect to dollars, deliberation produces a "severity shift," in which the jury's dollar verdict is systematically higher than that of the median of its jurors' predeliberation judgments. A "deliberation shift analysis" is introduced to measure the effect of deliberation. The severity shift is attributed to a "rhetorical asymmetry," in which arguments for higher awards are more persuasive than arguments for lower awards. When judgments are measured not in terms of dollars but on a rating scale of punishment severity, deliberation increased high ratings and decreased low ratings. We also find that deliberation does not alleviate the problem of erratic and unpredictable individual dollar awards, but in fact exacerbates it. Implications for punitive damage awards and deliberation generally are discussed.
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This book discusses social influences on individual behavior and the risk of error stemming from conformity. Special attention is given to three phenomena: individual conformity to erroneous positions held by group members; informational and reputational cascades; and group polarization, by which individuals end up in a more extreme position in line with their predeliberation tendencies. Applications include legal precedent; terrorism; the effects of largely unenforced law; jury behavior; judicial behavior on panels; free speech; and affirmative action. New data, discussing how judicial votes are affected by judicial colleagues, attests to the pervasiveness of conformity and group polarization. Taken as a whole, the evidence suggests the importance of individual disclosure and dissent to prevent errors by a wide range of social groups.
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This chapter presents a summary of the historical highlights and the theoretical influences on the development of modern crisis intervention theory that provide the groundwork for our current understanding of crisis intervention. More recent, advanced interventions, such as solution-focused therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological first aid, are also discussed. A conceptual overview and framework for identifying, assessing, and treating individuals or groups experiencing a crisis is outlined. Additionally, examples of specific events are used to illustrate the implementation of specific assessments and interventions in providing crisis intervention services. Further, current research and recent trends are reviewed, along with relevant policy and legal issues. Finally, a description of how mental health teams are formed and mobilized to provide crisis intervention services at disaster sites and in a variety of mental health care settings is provided.
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What are the effects of deliberation about political issues? This essay reports the results of a kind of Deliberation Day, involving sixty-three citizens in Colorado. Groups from Boulder, a predominantly liberal city, met and discussed global warming, affirmative action, and civil unions for same-sex couples; groups from Colorado Springs, a predominately conservative city, met to discuss the same issues. The major effect of deliberation was to make group members more extreme than they were when they started to talk. Liberals became more liberal on all three issues; conservatives became more conservative. As a result, the division between the citizens of Boulder and the citizens of Colorado Springs were significantly increased as a result of intragroup deliberation. Deliberation also increased consensus, and dampened diversity, within the groups. Hence Deliberation Day produced group polarization, in the distinctive form of ideological amplification. Implications are explored for the uses and structure of deliberation in general.
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Investigators have frequently noted a leniency bias in mock jury research, in which deliberation appears to induce greater leniency in criminal mock jurors. One manifestation of this bias, the asymmetry effect, suggests that proacquittal factions are more influential than proconviction factions of comparable size. A meta-analysis indicated that these asymmetry effects are reliable across a variety of experimental contexts. Experiment 1 examined the possibility that the leniency bias is restricted to the typical college-student subject population. The decisions of college-student and community mock jurors in groups beginning deliberation with equal faction sizes (viz., 2:2) were compared. The magnitude of the asymmetry effect did not differ between the two populations. We hypothesized that the asymmetry effect was caused by an asymmetric prodefendant standard of proof--the reasonable-doubt standard. In Experiment 2, subjects received either reasonable-doubt or preponderance-of-evidence instructions. After providing initial verdict preferences, some subjects deliberated in groups composed with an initial 2:2 split, whereas other subjects privately generated arguments for each verdict option. A significant asymmetry was found for groups in the reasonable-doubt condition, but group verdicts were symmetrical under the preponderance-of-evidence instructions. Shifts toward leniency in individual verdict preferences occurred for group members, but not for subjects who performed the argument-generation task. The theoretical and applied significance of these findings is discussed.
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We predicted that discussion would enhance dominant group values, leading to increased polarization between homogeneously composed groups of high-, medium-, and low-prejudice high school subjects. In an experimental condition, group members made individual attitude judgments, discussed them, and remade judgments. Control groups discussed irrelevant materials before responding again to the attitude items. As predicted, discussion of the racial attitude items with others having similar attitudes significantly increased the gap between high- and low-prejudice groups.
Article
Four studies found that social corroboration of one's (pro/con) attitudinal position leads to increases in attitude extremity. Study 1 focused on attraction ratings made by college women. This study demonstrated both increases in opinion extremity following corroboration and decreases in opinion extremity following contradiction. Study 2 focused on dental chair comfort ratings made by dental patients and found greater opinion extremity following corroboration from either fellow patients or the dentist. Study 3 reported greater charity donation amounts as well as heightened opinion confidence following corroboration. Study 4 replicated Study 1 varying duration of stimulus exposure and found that, as predicted, confidence scores were affected more by the corroboration/contradiction manipulation when initial exposures were brief. Unexpectedly, however, the affect of corroboration on attraction ratings, was not moderated by initial exposure time. Rather, across both long and short exposure times, attraction scores were most extreme following corroboration and least extreme following contradiction. Path analyses in Study 4 supported the view that this association between corroboration and extremity was mediated by confidence. This research indicates that the relationship between corroboration and opinion extremity appears to be respectably robust across populations and target variables, and is not specific to sensitive within subject designs. Moreover, Study 3 indicates that social corroboration is capable of increasing the extremity of behavior having real consequences for participants. The data are discussed in terms of possible moderator variables, as well as theories of group polarization and opinion extremity.
Forthcoming. What really happened on deliberation day? California Law Review95
  • R Hastie
  • D Schkade
  • C R Sunstein
Hastie, R., D. Schkade, and C. R. Sunstein. Forthcoming. What really happened on deliberation day? California Law Review 95.
  • Schkade D.