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Testing The Effects Of Civility And Rationality During Political Contact

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Testing The Effects Of Civility And Rationality During Political Contact

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Title: Testing The Effects Of Civility And Rationality During Political Contact
Author: Popan, Jason R.
Abstract: This research project investigated the effects of civility and rationality of contact between self-identified liberals and conservatives on several outcome measures: participants' evaluations of the political ingroup and outgroup; political attitude certainty; perceived amount of difference between political group members (liberal and conservative); and political identification strength. A 2 (civility: high, low) X 2 (rationality: high, low) experimental design was used in both studies. In Study 1, participants encountered fictitious Internet discussion board posts, with manipulated levels of civility and rationality. Findings from Study 1 did not confirm expectations that exposure to civil and rational civil discourse would lead to more positive evaluations of the outgroup or lower amounts of perceived intergroup difference. However, participants in the high rationality conditions (as compared to the low rationality conditions) reported significantly lower levels of certainty for their positions on the discussion board topics. In Study 2, participants took part in an asynchronous Internet discussion. The presence or absence of discussion rules that, respectively, requested a civil and/or rational discussion was manipulated. Participants in Study 2 reported less negative intergroup attitudes and a smaller amount of perceived intergroup difference after taking part in a political discussion group with political outgroup members. These results are discussed in light of increased media attention on civility in political life.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10106/6153
Date: 2011-10-11

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