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

Author Archive

Pew Finds that Support for Compromise is Rising

From this survey:

After a series of bruising political battles over the past few years, the public’s desire for political compromise in Washington has increased notably. In March 2011, soon after Republicans gained a majority in the House, 54% said they liked elected officials who stuck to their positions, while 40% liked politicians who made compromises with people they disagreed with. Today, 50% say they like leaders who compromise, and 44% like those who stick to their positions.

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Learning to Like People You Disagree With

Erick Erickson is leaving CNN for Fox News, and his final words on RedState were much in keeping with his previous post on civility.  His experience appears to be a testimony to the power of inter-group contact.

From his farewell post:

Because of CNN I’m not just better at my job, but I’m a better person. For all the hate and angst from a lot of folks on the right over me going to CNN, I know many of the contributors I consider good friends were initially skeptical of my hiring. I had to learn an art form too often missing these days in partisan talk — the art of conversation, particularly with those who might disagree with me. I had to learn to be friends with people who I disagreed with. And I leave deeply caring for those people.

Frankly, before I went to CNN I was oblivious to the fact that there are ways to say things, without sacrificing or compromising my view or principle, that come off as more respectable and honest without invective than how I might have otherwise said them. There are ways to say things that draw people to you and ways to say things that push people from you. There are also times that facts and “known facts” get bounced around by both sides of the political spectrum without them ever actually being actual facts. We should all be more mindful of that. CNN made me mindful of that.


– Ravi Iyer 


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Our New Mission has a new mission.

To provide evidence-based support to groups working to promote inter-group civility and mutual understanding. We draw from the behavioral sciences–particularly social psychology–to create effective interventions and measurement tools, which will enable each group to tailor programs that best fit their own needs. We also aim to make research findings widely available to groups and individuals who want to promote civility.

We originally created in 2009 to address the rising ideological polarization and paralysis that was damaging America’s politicals and civic life. For the first three years, our goal was to collect academic research-in psychology and political science-and apply it to the problem of declining civility in Washington.  However, since that time, numerous groups have decided to operate in that civic space and so we decided late last year to reorient CivilPolitics’ mission toward our specific academic expertise.  Rather than bridging political divides directly, we decided that our expertise in social and moral psychology could be best leveraged by applying our skills to helping the many civic groups that are currently working to help foster more mutual understanding and civility among the American people.

Importantly, this understanding of the scientific literature on inter-group relations is not just applicable to political divides.  Most of our published research is on moral psychology, so we will seek to apply our perspectives mainly to conflicts with moral undertones, but such conflicts are not unique to the division between liberals and conservatives and we are hopeful that the work we do will be applicable to a diverse number of groups.  Already, we’ve been contacted by groups working to bring together people around prison reform and across religious divisions.

We offer services to both academic researchers and groups/individuals seeking to reduce intergroup tensions, acting as a bridge between these groups.  For real-world practitioners, we offer the latest academic research that can be used to inform practice, as well as an opportunity to empirically measure the effectiveness of programs.  For researchers, we offer a chance to test your theories in real-world environments, including data we collect from practitioners who want empirical validation of their methods.  In addition, we facilitate research through various other relatively scalable methods, such as through our work at  We feel that we have a unique niche to play in the facilitation of better intergroup relations, using technology to disseminate and facilitate faster development and application of evidence-based methods.

Interested in working with us, either as an academic, practitioner, or funder?  Contact me (ravi at civil politics dt org).

– Ravi Iyer

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Red State Preaches Civility

As someone who seeks civility and compromise, I keep tabs on the more extreme websites on both the left and the right.  Redstate is generally a reliable source of conservative incivility, though mixed with thoughtful arguments about conservatism as well.  Recently, Erick Erickson posted this article, calling for Republicans to win based on ideas that make people's lives better, rather than on demonizing the opposition for scandals such as Fast and Furious and Benghazi.

Congratulations Mr. President on your second inaugural.

Saying that makes some of you really enraged.  I said the same on twitter shortly after his official swearing in. Several of the replies were embarrassing and atrocious. Some accused the man elected by a majority of Americans of treason. Some accused him of willfully destroying the nation.

I believe the President’s policies are destructive and will harm our economy, our nation, and our sense of national self long term…But I do not think the President means to do this maliciously. I do not think he is treasonous. I do not hate him. I am not outraged by it. The President has done what he set out to do. I cannot be outraged by him doing what he set out to do. I am far more outraged by the Republicans not doing what they said they would do….

Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause. Instead of showing how increasing government harms people, how free markets help people, and how conservative policies benefit all Americans, we scream “Benghazi” and “Fast & Furious.”

The full article is well worth reading and gives me hope for the next four years.

– Ravi Iyer

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