Educating the Public on Evidence-based methods for improving inter-group civility.

Diversity in political opinion leads to better policy

Both in my academic and industry work, I work a lot on crowdsourcing answers, as multiple sources of information are inevitably going to lead to better conclusions.   The key to good crowdsourcing is not the volume of people, but the diversity of people in any dataset (e.g. this paper).  David Blankenhorn, of the Better Angels initiative, applies this same logic to improving policy through diversity of political thought.

From the article:

“Diversity,” like so much else these days, divides us….diversity, properly understood, might be our last best hope of repairing our broken politics and depolarizing our society. Consider three factual propositions.

Diverse groups make better decisions. If you’re an investor seeking an accurate prediction of next year’s inflation rate, should you go with your own best analysis, depend on a famous expert whose judgment you trust, or put your faith in the mathematical average of 50 predictions made by experts holding widely divergent views on inflation? Research suggests that the third strategy is consistently more likely to produce the most accurate prediction. Diverse groups are smart.

Like-minded groups make us individually dumber. I like to imagine that my political opinions come from evaluating evidence and sorting through facts, but I’ve learned from the research that it just ain’t so. Like you and nearly everyone, my political stances are largely shaped by ordinary human needs to belong, to maintain cherished relationships, and to protect or try to enhance my status within the groups that matter to me.

….

Groups shaping our political views have become less diverse. Both of our main political parties increasingly consist of like-minded people. It’s hard today to find a liberal Republican or a conservative Democrat. Our residential communities are also increasingly politically like-minded. In 1976, about one in four Americans lived in a county in which presidential candidate won by a landslide. Today that number is one in two. Increasingly, the news sources we use today tell us only what we already think. Finally, friendship circles today are increasingly politically defined, with liberals befriending other liberals and conservatives rarely inviting a liberal to lunch. (Where would they go — Cracker Barrel or Au Bon Pain?) So many of us today are nearly fully enveloped in political similarity. The main results are dumbed-down thinking and increasing polarization.

Creating a more civil political environment is not just beneficial for our relationships in our communities…it also leads to better, smarter policy.

- Ravi Iyer

 

Read Ahead

Love thy neighbor: Ingroups, outgroups and collaboration possibilities

Context: Research on intergroup conflict is well supported and grounded in implementing collaboration. However, despite this data, conflict continues to grow and develop. In the present research, Waytz, Young, and Ginges (2014) provide context as to why individuals and their respective group associations may fail to respect peace-promoting findings through an analysis of “motive attribution asymmetry.” Motive attribution symmetry is an assumption-based pattern that involves ingroup vs. outgroup tendencies to respond with either biased ingroup-love or outgroup-hate assumptions.
Waytz et al. (2014) hypothesize that people will “attribute ingroup engagement in conflict to love more than hate…. but [also] attribute outgroup engagement in conflict to hate more than love” (p. 15687) Within five separate studies, Waytz et al. (2014) utilize several distinct intergroup conflicts, violent and non-violent, aiming to understand individuals’ innate sense of ingroup and outgroup motives and subsequent intergroup assumptions.

 Study 2 and Study 3 outline continuing information found in study one: individuals tend to support the motive attribution asymmetry pattern and generally form internal biases that follow outgorup-hate assumptions and ingroup-love assessments.

 

Study 5: Incentivizing Accuracy
1. What They Did – Intervention Summary:
The motive attribution symmetry pattern is not only negative (i.e. hate assumptions) but also inhibiting compromise. Waytz et al. wanted to see what may curb its effect and thus improve likelihood of cooperation.
In this study, 331 American democrat and republican residents participated by completing an online study similar to study 1. Those who answered with a secure political ideology were then asked if they felt their party was motivated by various items. Items ranged from love (empathy for others in your own party) to hate (dislike of opposing party members). Participants were then randomly placed into either an incentive experimental group or a control group. Both were told to guess the motivations of the opposing political party, however those in the incentive group were given the notion of earning 12 extra dollars if they estimated correctly. The questions asked were the same asked prior, but now about the opposing party, be it republican or democrat. Lastly, each condition rated how much the would be willing to negotiated with an opposing party.

 2. What They Found – Results:
Researchers were excited to find that when provided incentive, the experimental group diminished motivational attributions of hate and increased the motivational attribution of love for outrgroups. Thus, the pattern seen through the motive attribution symmetry in the previous four studies is derailed and actually reversed when individuals are presented incentives. Incentive was found to increase optimism in terms of the conflict, and thus could open doors towards future agreements and compromises.
However, despite this exciting discovery, Waytz et al. suggest that these findings were in a context less violent and volatile than those in other intergroup contexts.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.30.01 PM
Green – Attribution of hate to opposing party
Blue – Attribution of love to opposing party

 

 3. Who Was Studied – Sample:
331 American democrats and republicans; 223 male, 106 female, 2 unreported

4. Study Name:
Waytz et al., 2014, Study 5

 5. Citation:
Waytz, A., Young, L. L., & Ginges, J. (2014). Motive attribution asymmetry for love vs. hate drives        intractable conflict. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(44), 15687-15692.     doi:10.1073/pnas.1414146111

6. Link:
http://www.pnas.org/content/111/44/15687.abstract

7. Intervention categories:
Intergroup Conflict, Ingroup love, Outgroup hate, Attribution, Cognitive bias, Political ideology, Politics, Republican, Democrat, 2014

8. Sample size:
331

9. Central Reported Statistic:
“Most importantly, a significant condition × target × motive interaction [F(1, 329) = 42.05, P = 0.001, η2P = 0.11] (all other effects, P > 0.39)”

Read Ahead

Love thy neighbor: Ingroups, outgroups, and biased attributions (Study 4)

Context: Research on intergroup conflict is well supported and grounded in implementing collaboration. However, despite this data, conflict continues to grow and develop. In the present research, Waytz, Young, and Ginges (2014) provide context as to why individuals and their respective group associations may fail to respect peace-promoting findings through an analysis of “motive attribution asymmetry.” Motive attribution symmetry is an assumption-based pattern that involves ingroup vs. outgroup tendencies to respond with either biased ingroup-love or outgroup-hate assumptions.
Waytz et al. (2014) hypothesize that people will “attribute ingroup engagement in conflict to love more than hate…. but [also] attribute outgroup engagement in conflict to hate more than love” (p. 15687) Within five separate studies, Waytz et al. (2014) utilize several distinct intergroup conflicts, violent and non-violent, aiming to understand individuals’ innate sense of ingroup and outgroup motives and subsequent intergroup assumptions.

 Study 2 (See Figure 1) and Study 3 outline continuing information found in study one: individuals tend to support the motive attribution asymmetry pattern and generally form internal biases that follow outgorup-hate assumptions and ingroup-love assessments.
Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.20.02 AM
Blue – Love
Red – Hate

 

 Study 4: Implications of Bias
1. What They Did – Intervention Summary:
Researchers worked towards proving the prediction that the motive attribution pattern actually informs intentions to retract or maintain ones position about an outgroup or conflict member. In other words, using the information found in study 1-3, Waytz et al. wanted to see what implications may arise when individuals follow this mental pattern.
Israeli participants responded to questions regarding Palestinian motivations  (ingroup love vs. out-group hate) as well as questions concerning personal beliefs in terms of retracting or maintaining attitudes about Palestinians.

 2. What They Found – Results:
Again the pattern was found, however, implications of this bias were also discovered to be correlated. Specifically, Waytz et al. found that feeling that Palestinians are motivated by hate for Israelis correlated with limited desire to negotiate, limited belief in a compromise, win-win situation, as well as reduced optimism and preference for peace making deals.

 3. Who Was Studied – Sample:
498 Israeli residents, contacted through and collected data by way of phone interviews; demographic information collected at the same time

 4. Study Name:
Waytz et al., 2014, Study 4

 5. Citation:
Waytz, A., Young, L. L., & Ginges, J. (2014). Motive attribution asymmetry for love vs. hate drives        intractable conflict. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(44), 15687-15692.     doi:10.1073/pnas.1414146111

 6. Link:
http://www.pnas.org/content/111/44/15687.abstract

7. Intervention categories:
Intergroup Conflict, Ingroup love, Outgroup hate, Attribution, Cognitive bias, Religious identity, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gaza

 8. Sample size:
498

 9. Central Reported Statistic:
“This measure of bias was correlated with…
reduced willingness to negotiate [r(453) = −0.23, P < 0.0001]
reduced perceptions of a win-win [r(409) = −0.21, P < 0.0001]
reduced optimism [r(463) = −0.10, P = 0.038]
reduced personal willingness to vote for a peace deal [r(471) = −0.15, P = 0.001]
reduced expectation that Palestinians will vote for a peace deal [r(471) = −0.11, P = 0.016]
reduced positive compromise outcome beliefs [r(471) = −0.26, P < 0.0001]
increased essentialist beliefs about Palestinians [r(471) = 0.27, P < 0.0001]”

 

 

 

Read Ahead

Love thy neighbor: Ingroups, outgroups, and biased attributions

Context: Research on intergroup conflict is well supported and grounded in implementing collaboration. However, despite this data, conflict continues to grow and develop. In the present research, Waytz, Young, and Ginges (2014) provide context as to why individuals and their respective group associations may fail to respect peace-promoting findings through an analysis of “motive attribution asymmetry.” Motive attribution symmetry is an assumption-based pattern that involves ingroup vs. outgroup tendencies to respond with either biased ingroup-love or outgroup-hate assumptions.
Waytz et al. (2014) hypothesize that people will “attribute ingroup engagement in conflict to love more than hate…. but [also] attribute outgroup engagement in conflict to hate more than love” (p. 15687) Within five separate studies, Waytz et al. (2014) utilize several distinct intergroup conflicts, violent and non-violent, aiming to understand individuals’ innate sense of ingroup and outgroup motives and subsequent intergroup assumptions.

 

Study 1: Democrat-Republican Conflict in American Politics
1. What They Did – Intervention Summary:
Why do individuals disregard peacemaking solutions spelled out by previous research studies?
Participants were randomly assigned to be on one of two conditions, one being “own party” the other being “other-party” condition. In both situations, the participants conducted a few questionnaires while being asked to “think about the political party that you belong to. Now, think about members of the opposing political party” (Waytz et al. 2014, p. 15690). Subsequently, participants were asked to evaluate either what motivated their own party (own-party condition) or the opposing party (other-party condition) with a set list of items pertaining to love (x3 times) and to hate (x3 items). Each item was rated on a seven-point scale, one being low motivation, seven being high motivation. After these initial questions, the participants finished the study by providing political party and ideology affiliations. Again, scores were rated upon a seven-point scale, one being very liberal, seven being not liberal at all/very conservative.

 2. What They Found – Results:
Waytz et al. (2014) reported findings that supported their hypothesis: individuals presented higher reports of love motivations for their in-group questions, in comparison to higher levels of hate motivation responses for out-groups. Waytz et al. (2014) found that these findings point towards biased evaluations of out-group members and actions.
(Continued with 4 subsequent studies)

 3. Who Was Studied – Sample:
285 United States residents; accessed through mTurk

4. Study Name:
Waytz et al., 2014, Study 1

5. Citation:
Waytz, A., Young, L. L., & Ginges, J. (2014). Motive attribution asymmetry for love vs. hate drives intractable conflict. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(44), 15687-15692. doi:10.1073/pnas.1414146111

 6. Link:

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/44/15687.abstract

7. Intervention categories:
Intergroup Conflict, Ingroup love, Outgroup hate, Attribution, Cognitive bias, Political ideology, Politics

 8. Sample size:
285

 9. Central Reported Statistic:
“People indicated that their own party was more motivated by love for their own party [mean (M) = 4.47, standard deviation (SD) = 1.31] than by hate for the other party (M = 3.63, SD = 1.17) and that the opposing party was more motivated by hate (M = 4.56, SD = 1.10) than love (M = 3.53, SD = 1.27).”

 

Read Ahead
Our goal is to educate the public about social science research on improving inter-group relations across moral divides.