Exposure to Opposing Views can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment on Social Media


Here's a study that paid Twitter users to look at tweets from the other side of the aisle. The result was that liberal users became slightly more liberal — and conservatives became much more conservative. Depressing!

Our second hypothesis builds upon a more recent wave of studies that indicate exposure to those with opposing political views may create backfire effects that exacerbate political polarization. This literature—which now spans several academic disciplines—indicates people who are exposed to messages that conflict with their own attitudes are prone to counter-argue them using motivated reasoning, which accentuates perceived differences between groups and increases their commitment to pre-existing beliefs.


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