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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.

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... extant psychological work stresses that intuitive predictions are usually worse than statistical predictions and, sometimes, worse than chance (Dawes, Faust, and Meehl 1989). People tend to be terrible forecasters notably because they largely "misuse" probabilistic rules when updating their beliefs and test their hypotheses in suboptimal ways (kahneman, Slovic, and Tversky 1982;Mellers et al. 2019 ). Moreover, probability estimates proved to be highly susceptible to base rate neglect, hindsight bias, and overconfidence (see Gilovich, Griffin, and kahneman [2002] for a literature review). ...
... Based on this source of data, Tetlock and his team established that the accuracy of previsions correlates with individual cognitive abilities. Their work stresses, in particular, that the most accurate predictions were made by individuals who scored higher on fluid intelligence and cognitive flexibility, that is, the ability to update one's beliefs and take into considerations various points of views (see Mellers et al. 2015Mellers et al. , 2019. They also stress the importance of benefiting from "an enriched environment" (Ungar et al. 2012;Mellers et al. 2015), highlighting that working in groups (to combine predictions from multiple sources) proved to be systematically associated with more accurate forecasts than working alone. ...
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Democracy requires a connection to the “will of the people.” What does that mean in a world of “fake news,” relentless advocacy, dialogue mostly among the like-minded, and massive spending to manipulate public opinion? What kind of opinion can the public have under such conditions? What would democracy be like if the people were really thinking in depth about the policies they must live with? This book argues that “deliberative democracy” is not utopian. It is a practical solution to many of democracy’s ills. It can supplement existing institutions with practical reforms. It can apply at all levels of government and for many different kinds of policy choices. This book speaks to a recurring dilemma: listen to the people and get the angry voices of populism or rely on widely distrusted elites and get policies that seem out of touch with the public’s concerns. Instead, there are methods for getting a representative and thoughtful public voice that is really worth listening to. Democracy is under siege in most countries. Democratic institutions have low approval and face a resurgent threat from authoritarian regimes. Deliberative democracy can provide an antidote. It can reinvigorate our democratic politics. This book draws on the author’s research with many collaborators on “Deliberative Polling”-a process he has conducted in twenty-seven countries on six continents. It contributes both to political theory and to the empirical study of public opinion and participation, and should interest anyone concerned about the future of democracy and how it can be revitalized. © James S. Fishkin 2018 and Part III, Section 2: James S. Fishkin, Thad Kousser, Robert C. Luskin, and Alice Siu and Part III, Section 4: James S. Fishkin, Roy William Mayega, Lynn Atuyambe, Nathan Tumuhamye, Julius Ssentongo, Alice Siu, and William Bazeyo and Part III, Section 5: James S. Fishkin, Robert C. Luskin, and Alice Siu.
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• Tested the cognitive vs rhetorical style hypothesis (conservatives have more simplistic rhetorical, not cognitive styles than liberals or moderates) by assessing the integrative complexity of 10 paragraph-sized statements of 81 senators in 5 US Congresses: 3 dominated by liberals and moderates (the 82nd, 94th, and 96th Congresses) and 2 dominated by conservatives (the 83rd and 97th Congresses). Results show that liberals and moderates were more complex than conservatives in the 82nd, 94th, and 96th Congresses but that these differences among ideological groups were much less pronounced in the 83rd and 97th Congresses. The change in pattern was due to sharp declines in the complexity of liberals and, to a lesser extent, moderates in conservative-dominated sessions, not to an increase in the complexity in conservatives. Conservatives displayed more traitlike stability in integrative complexity both within and across Congressional sessions. It is suggested that the integrative complexity of senatorial debate may be a joint product of relatively context-specific styles of political impression management and relatively stable cognitive styles of organizing the political world. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) • Tested the cognitive vs rhetorical style hypothesis (conservatives have more simplistic rhetorical, not cognitive styles than liberals or moderates) by assessing the integrative complexity of 10 paragraph-sized statements of 81 senators in 5 US Congresses: 3 dominated by liberals and moderates (the 82nd, 94th, and 96th Congresses) and 2 dominated by conservatives (the 83rd and 97th Congresses). Results show that liberals and moderates were more complex than conservatives in the 82nd, 94th, and 96th Congresses but that these differences among ideological groups were much less pronounced in the 83rd and 97th Congresses. The change in pattern was due to sharp declines in the complexity of liberals and, to a lesser extent, moderates in conservative-dominated sessions, not to an increase in the complexity in conservatives. Conservatives displayed more traitlike stability in integrative complexity both within and across Congressional sessions. It is suggested that the integrative complexity of senatorial debate may be a joint product of relatively context-specific styles of political impression management and relatively stable cognitive styles of organizing the political world. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The most widely debated conception of democracy in recent years is deliberative democracy--the idea that citizens or their representatives owe each other mutually acceptable reasons for the laws they enact. Two prominent voices in the ongoing discussion are Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson. In Why Deliberative Democracy?, they move the debate forward beyond their influential book, Democracy and Disagreement. What exactly is deliberative democracy? Why is it more defensible than its rivals? By offering clear answers to these timely questions, Gutmann and Thompson illuminate the theory and practice of justifying public policies in contemporary democracies. They not only develop their theory of deliberative democracy in new directions but also apply it to new practical problems. They discuss bioethics, health care, truth commissions, educational policy, and decisions to declare war. In "What Deliberative Democracy Means," which opens this collection of essays, they provide the most accessible exposition of deliberative democracy to date. They show how deliberative democracy should play an important role even in the debates about military intervention abroad. Why Deliberative Democracy? contributes to our understanding of how democratic citizens and their representatives can make justifiable decisions for their society in the face of the fundamental disagreements that are inevitable in diverse societies. Gutmann and Thompson provide a balanced and fair-minded approach that will benefit anyone intent on giving reason and reciprocity a more prominent place in politics than power and special interests.
Article
One of the most salient attributes of information is valence: whether a piece of news is good or bad. Contrary to classic learning theories, which implicitly assume beliefs are adjusted similarly regardless of valence, we review evidence suggesting that different rules and mechanisms underlie learning from desirable and undesirable information. For self-relevant beliefs this asymmetry generates a positive bias, with significant implications for individuals and society. We discuss the boundaries of this asymmetry, characterize the neural system supporting it, and describe how changes in this circuit are related to individual differences in behavior.
Article
The intelligence failures surrounding the invasion of Iraq dramatically illustrate the necessity of developing standards for evaluating expert opinion. This book fills that need. Here, Philip E. Tetlock explores what constitutes good judgment in predicting future events, and looks at why experts are often wrong in their forecasts. Tetlock first discusses arguments about whether the world is too complex for people to find the tools to understand political phenomena, let alone predict the future. He evaluates predictions from experts in different fields, comparing them to predictions by well-informed laity or those based on simple extrapolation from current trends. He goes on to analyze which styles of thinking are more successful in forecasting. Classifying thinking styles using Isaiah Berlin's prototypes of the fox and the hedgehog, Tetlock contends that the fox--the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of traditions, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events--is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill-defined problems. He notes a perversely inverse relationship between the best scientific indicators of good judgement and the qualities that the media most prizes in pundits--the single-minded determination required to prevail in ideological combat. Clearly written and impeccably researched, the book fills a huge void in the literature on evaluating expert opinion. It will appeal across many academic disciplines as well as to corporations seeking to develop standards for judging expert decision-making.
Article
The past decade has witnessed an explosion of interest in the partisan polarization of the American electorate. Scholarly investigation of this topic has coincided with the media’s portrayal of a polity deeply divided along partisan lines. Yet little research so far has considered the consequences of the media’s coverage of political polarization. We show that media coverage of polarization increases citizens’ beliefs that the electorate is polarized. Furthermore, the media’s depiction of a polarized electorate causes voters to moderate their own issue positions but increases their dislike of the opposing party. These empirical patterns are consistent with our theoretical argument that polarized exemplars in journalistic coverage serve as anti-cues to media consumers. Our findings have important implications for understanding current and future trends in political polarization.
Article
Theorists argue that deliberation promotes enlightenment and consensus, but scholars do not know I how deliberation affects policy opinions. Using the deliberative democracy and public opinion JL literatures as a guide, I develop a theory of opinion updating where citizens who deliberate revise their prior beliefs, particularly when they encounter consensual messages. A key aspect of this model is that opinion strength moderates the deliberative opinion change process. In two separate propensity score analyses using panel survey data from a deliberative forum and cross-sectional surveys, I show how deliberation and discussion both affect opinions toward Social Security reform. However, deliberation differs from ordinary discussion in that participants soften strongly held views, encounter different perspectives, and learn readily. Thus, deliberation increases knowledge and alters opinions, but it does so selectively based on the quality and diversity of the messages as well as the willingness of participants to keep an open mind.
Article
Many scholars view integratively complex reasoning as either cognitively or morally superior to integratively simple reasoning. This value judgment is, however, too simple to capture the complex, subtle, and even paradoxical linkages between integrative complexity and "good judgment" in historical context. Our case studies add to the growing literature on this topic by assessing the integrative and cognitive complexity of policy statements that Winston Churchill and his political adversaries made during two key foreign policy debates of the 1930s-the appeasement of Nazi Germany (where contemporary opinion overwhelmingly favors Churchill) and the granting of self-government to India (where contemporary opinion overwhelmingly favors Churchill's opponents). In both private and public, Churchill expressed less integratively complex but more cognitively complex opinions than did his opponents on both Nazi Germany and self-government for India. The results illustrate (a) impressive consistency in Churchill's integrative but not cognitive complexity in both private and public communications over time and issue domains, and (b) the dependence of normative judgments of styles of thinking on speculative counterfactual reconstructions of history and on moral-political values. We close by arguing that, although integrative complexity can be maladaptive in specific decision-making settings, it can still be highly adaptive at the meta-decision-making level where leaders "decide how to decide." Good judgment requires the ability to shift from simple to complex modes of processing in timely and appropriate ways.
Article
Can partisan media (in particular, partisan TV news) polarize viewers? I outline a set of hypotheses to explain the conditions under which partisan media will increase attitudinal polarization. I use original experiments to test this theory, and find that like-minded messages do have a strong polarizing effect on viewers' attitudes. I also show that cross-cutting messages have, on average, little effect on attitudes, but that they can have strongly polarizing or moderating effects for voters with particular traits. I provide evidence supporting one of the primary hypothesized mechanisms, and also show their duration outside of the lab. I draw on experimental techniques from biomedical studies to show how viewer's preferences for watching partisan media shape these effects. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for both theories of media effects and political behavior more broadly. + The author thanks Daniella Lejitneker and the staff of the Wharton Behavioral Lab for help implementing experiment 1 in the paper. Thanks also to Pope, and participants at the MIT American Politics Conference for comments, and to the School of Arts and Sciences and the Vice-Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania for funding these experiments. Any remaining errors are my own. The supplemental data with details on the experiments is available upon request from the author.
Article
Experiments exploring the effects of group discussion on attitudes, jury decisions, ethical decisions, judgments, person perceptions, negotiations, and risk taking (other than the choice-dilemmas task) are generally consistent with a "group polarization" hypothesis, derived from the risky-shift literature. Recent attempts to explain the phenomenon fall mostly into 1 of 3 theoretical approaches: (a) group decision rules, especially majority rule (which is contradicted by available data); (b) interpersonal comparisons (for which there is mixed support); and (c) informational influence (for which there is strong support). A conceptual scheme is presented which integrates the latter 2 viewpoints and suggests how attitudes develop in a social context. (41/2 p ref)
Article
Five studies tested when and why individuals engage in confirmatory information searches (selective exposure) following predictions. Participants engaged in selective exposure following their own predictions, even when their predictions were completely arbitrary (Studies 1 and 3). The selective exposure was not simply the result of a cognitive bias tied to the salience of a prediction option (Study 2). Instead, it appears that making a prediction—regardless of how ill-informed a person is while making the prediction—can cause the person to anticipate enjoyment from being right (Studies 4 and 5) and to select new information consistent with that outcome. The results establish a desirability account that can explain post-prediction selective exposure effects even in cases when defense motivations, pre-existing differences, or positive-test strategies can be ruled out as explanations.
Article
Explored the impact of accountability (the need to justify one's views to others) on the complexity of people's thinking on controversial social issues. 48 undergraduates reported their thoughts on 3 issues and then responded to a series of attitude scales relevant to each topic. Ss provided this information under 1 of 4 conditions: expecting their attitudes to be anonymous or expecting to justify their attitudes to an individual with liberal, conservative, or unknown views. Consistent with previous work on strategic attitude shifts, Ss reported more liberal attitudes when they expected to justify their views to a conservative. Accountability also increased the integrative complexity and evaluative inconsistency of the thoughts reported on each issue but only when Ss expected to justify their attitudes to an individual with unknown views. Findings suggest that accountability leads to more complex information processing only when people do not have the cognitively lazy option of simply expressing views similar to those of the individual to whom they feel accountable. (39 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Evidence from 4 studies with 584 undergraduates demonstrates that social observers tend to perceive a "false consensus" with respect to the relative commonness of their own responses. A related bias was shown to exist in the observers' social inferences. Thus, raters estimated particular responses to be relatively common and relatively unrevealing concerning the actors' distinguishing personal dispositions when the responses in question were similar to the raters' own responses; responses differing from those of the rater, by contrast, were perceived to be relatively uncommon and revealing of the actor. These results were obtained both in questionnaire studies presenting Ss with hypothetical situations and choices and in authentic conflict situations. The implications of these findings for the understanding of social perception phenomena and for the analysis of the divergent perceptions of actors and observers are discussed. Cognitive and perceptual mechanisms are proposed which might account for distortions in perceived consensus and for corresponding biases in social inference and attributional processes. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
People must often engage in sequential sampling in order to make predictions about the relative quantities of two options. We investigated how directional motives influence sampling selections and resulting predictions in such cases. We used a paradigm in which participants had limited time to sample items and make predictions about which side of the screen contained more of a critical item. Sampling selections were biased by monetary desirability manipulations, and participants exhibited a desirability bias for both dichotomous and continuous predictions.
Article
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.
Article
How do people remain blind to the motives underlying their flattering self-construals, attitudes, and social judgments? This paper explores how motivated cognition accomplishes the goal of self-deception. It proposes that self-serving conclusions are produced although the influence of such distortions remains hidden from conscious awareness because of the ubiquitous presence and specialized nature of motivated cognition. I will discuss how motivations infiltrate four stages of cognitive processing, including information gathering and the creation of filters, the deployment of attention, information processing, and memory. In doing so, I will suggest that perhaps it is precisely because of this multicomponent system of checks and balances, the efficiency of motivational biases, and the specialized neural pathways used by motivated cognition that self-deception is successful.
Article
False consensus refers to an egocentric bias that occurs when people estimate consensus for their own behaviors. Specifically, the false consensus hypothesis holds that people who engage in a given behavior will estimate that behavior to be more common than it is estimated to be by people who engage in alternative behaviors. A meta-analysis was conducted upon 115 tests of this hypothesis. The combined effects of the tests of the false consensus hypothesis were highly statistically significant and of moderate magnitude. Further, the 115 tests of false consensus appear to be relatively heterogeneous in terms of significance levels and effect sizes. Correlational analyses and focused comparisons indicate that the false consensus effect does not appear to be influenced by the generality of the reference population, nor by the difference between alternative choices in actual consensus. However, the significance and magnitude of the false consensus effect was significantly predicted by the number of behavioral choices/estimates subjects had to make, and the sequence of measurement of choices and estimates. These patterns of results are interpreted as being inconsistent with the self-presentational, motivational explanation for the false consensus effect.