When do populations polarize? An explanation

Produced by: 
Munich Personal RePEc Archive
Available from: 
April 2018
Paper author(s): 
Jean-Pierre Benoit
Juan Dubra
Topic: 
Methodology
Theory
Year: 
2018

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.

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