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Zooming across the political divide

4 Key takeaways: Conservatives and liberals who spoke one-on-one over Zoom enjoyed the experience and had greater respect for each other’s views than they anticipated.

However, conversations were more heated when participants knew others who shared their political views were watching.

Zoom can offer an effective way for people to converse civilly about politics away from social media.

Social psychologists at UCLA have done what seems impossible, at least on the internet: getting liberals and conservatives to have meaningful and congenial political discussions.

The trick? They held these conversations over Zoom, the video conferencing tool that the pandemic has made a household word.

The researchers discovered that most people, when asked to converse face-to-face without the anonymity and influence-chasing offered by social media and other online forums, instinctively connected with each other and found their interaction more pleasant than expected. Participants left with a greater appreciation for others’ views and felt less rigid in their own.The results, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that Zoom conversations could help mitigate political polarization, with a few caveats. Whether or not people had an audience, for instance, had a significant influence on the amount of conflict involved in the exchange.“Most studies […]

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