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3 Strategies to Address Political Polarization in the Workplace

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Summary. Political polarization is on the rise all around the world, with negative consequences for employees and employers alike. Luckily, new research on a phenomenon known as the “false polarization bias” finds that we often make the problem worse than it has to be by…

Around the world, partisan allegiances have infiltrated almost every aspect of work and life. In the U.S., if you patronize Starbucks, you are likely a Democrat ; Dunkin’ Donuts, a Republican. In Hungary, magazines dedicated to hobbies as seemingly benign as fishing and bird-watching are now split down ideological lines .

Research suggests that politics seep into non-political domains when differences of opinion are viewed not merely as disagreements, but as reason to disdain or even loathe the person holding those views. For example, studies have shown that Americans tend to regard those with differing political views as hypocritical, selfish, and closed-minded , and a majority of both Republicans and Democrats feel that political polarization is more insurmountable than racial or socioeconomic divisions.

To be sure, there are real underlying differences of opinion driving these perceptions. But our recent research — including both an extensive literature review and a series of surveys and lab experiments with more […]

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