from Aaron Bramson, were we able to integrate our efforts.
The lesson we have learned is that the apparent efficiency of
dividing a paper into separate sections by different team
members can compromise and undermine the benefits of
full synchronous collaboration and communication on all
aspects of a project throughout its development.
Future Directions and Empirical Validation
Our current model of rational polarization demonstrates
how polarization might arise from rational information processing. Building from it, we plan to include other parameters into the model—path dependence, sharedness of arguments (majority or minority), diversity (Grim et al., 2019, in
press), comparative contexts (intergroup and intra group),
issue types (subjective or objective), hierarchical representation, and interaction communities (communication
across social networks). This model and its associated
extensions aim to shed light on the continuing political
polarization in American politics. The national (Hopkins,
2018), cultural (Hetherington & Weiler, 2018), and representational (Broockman & Skovron, 2018) polarization of
politics hinge on the kind of underlying dynamics that we
hope to account for. Indeed, as Levendusky (2010) and
Ahler and Broockman (2018) showed, not all polarization is
bad, and in fact may, under some conditions, increase the
representative merits of the political system.
Our approach offers novel insights into the field of social
psychology. Most previous studies in attitude change and
persuasion focus mainly on changes in general attitude
when people are exposed to strong or weak persuasive
messages, rather than the specific arguments involved. It is
still unknown how people update their arguments and which
arguments they would retain or discard. A series of experiments can be conducted to explicate how and when people
update their arguments for a particular attitudinal topic
during group discussion and debate, and how such argument
updates influence overall attitude and belief.
Our recent project about forgetting process and polarization has inspired psychological studies conducted by the
social psychologist member of our team. For example, her
recently published paper on jury discussion indicates that
group discussion can affect not only information presented
during the discussion, but also information presented after
the discussion (Kerr & Jung, 2018). Whether and how the
recency effect of group discussion would cause polarization
remains as a future research question.
There have been increasing demands for more multidis-
ciplinary research in scientific communities. Because dif-
ferent disciplines have been building their own system of
knowledge for a long time on their own disciplinary as-
sumptions and with their own vocabulary, multidisciplinary
communication, not to mention multidisciplinary research,
is inherently difficult. Emphasizing open-mindedness is im-
portant but not enough. We believe that it is important to
have an agreement on what integrative framework a team
wants to take. We also believe the right balance between the
sciences and the humanities is critical if the goals of the
team are to solve real-world problems and to contribute to a
better and healthier society.
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