Fall 2012: The Polarized Electorate

Friday, December 7, 2012 (All day)
Young Library Auditorium, Gallery

The Polarized Electorate: All day mini-conference featuring 3 outside speakers. Detailed schedule. Please register here

  • James N. Druckman (the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University) uses innovative survey experiments to uncover stark evidence that polarized party elites fundamentally change how citizens make decisions. Partisans in a polarized environment follow their party regardless of the quality of the arguments made, with more confidence and dogmatic adherence to their own opinions while dismissing alternative views. Paper, Slides
  • Dan Kahan (the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale University) uses innovative survey experiments to show how the public’s cultural identities shape their perceptions of societal risk and scientific research on climate change, gun control, nanotechnology, geoengineering and much more. Papers here & here
  • Kevin Arceneaux (Political scientist, Temple University) uses innovative media experiments to study the impact of partisan networks, like Fox and MSNBC, where audiences can tune in to news that reinforce their political biases and avoid exposure to contrary information. By allowing subjects to choose what shows they watch, Arceneaux and his coauthor, Martin Johnson, show that studies that ignore the hyperchoice media environment overestimate some important effects of partisan media while underestimating others.  Chapters 1 & 3 of their forthcoming book, “Changing Minds or Changing Channels? Media Effects in the Era of Expanded Choice.” 

Co-sponsored with Psychology, Political Science and the College of Communications and Information. 

  • Feature: Polarization in the political system pitting Blue versus Red states, Democrats versus Republicans and Liberals versus Conservatives is at an all-time high in American politics. The public is divided too, and The Polarized Electorate is a conference designed to determine why divisiveness is practically becoming a way of life in America.
  • The Polarized Electorate is focused on understanding the psychology and policy implications of polarized communications. Top scholars across the social sciences—in Psychology, Political Science and Communications will present striking new research to illuminate the problem of polarization—how it’s created from negative campaigns and from partisan media like Fox and MSNBC, and how it even affects the way a divided public views scientific research. 
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