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

Is Civility Really Good?

On this page you'll find discussions of what exactly civility is, and which forms of it lead to which kinds of outcomes under which circumstances.

I) Essays arguing that the increase in polarization and its attendant rise in incivility are bad or costly:

William Galston, The Perils of Polarization: "It is hard to believe that any political party enjoys a monopoly on wisdom, so a situation in which the minority party gives the majority no incentive to accept the minority’s good ideas is bound to produce sub-optimal results. Whatever the substantive merits of single-party legislation, there are other reasons to keep working toward more agreement across party lines. Political science research finds a strong inverse relation between the level of combat between the parties and citizens’ trust in their governing institution. While a measure of mistrust is functional in a democracy, excessive mistrust hampers democratic self-government. With trust at historic lows, we have reached that point."

Matthew Nisbet & Dietram Scheufele, The Polarization Pardox, in Breakthrough Journal. They argue that polarization and incivility are bad but… especially for Democrats, who are the party of government. Offers a good history of how polarization increased, from a liberal perspective (which still criticizes liberals for the moves they made in gearing up their own message machine and reducing intellectual diversity within their ranks).

II) Essays arguing that the trend is not so bad, not so damaging:

George Will, Too Much Agreement Means More Entitlements. 5/16/12.

Harkening back to Margaret Thatcher  Tod Lindberg defends polarizing politicians: "Polarization seems to be a viable political strategy…when you are confident that your polarizing positions still enable you to command majority support." 3/12/13

–This page is maintained by Jon Haidt

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