When do populations polarize? An explanation

By: Jean-Pierre BenoîtJuan Dubra
Abstract: Numerous experiments demonstrate attitude polarization. For instance, Lord, Ross & Lepper presented subjects with the same mixed evidence on the deterrent effect of the death penalty. Both believers and skeptics of its deterrent effect became more convinced of their views; that is, the population polarized. However, not all experiments find this attitude polarization. We propose a theory of rational updating that accounts for both the positive and negative experimental findings. This is in contrast to existing theories, which predict either too much or too little polarization
Keywords: Attitude Polarization; Confirmation Bias; Bayesian Decision Making

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