Professor Chris Bail went onto The Purple Principle to discuss social media’s role in heightening political polarization and extremism.
His experiments at the Polarization Lab study the mechanisms surrounding political online identities and build tools to promote civil discourse and bridge the partisan divide.
“…The idea was, of course, that if you take people out of their echo chamber, they should become more moderate… And unfortunately, what we found is more or less the opposite… Nobody became more moderate when they followed these bots for a month that exposed them to the other side. And some people, and particularly Republicans, became much more polarized.”
“If and when…productive political dialogue takes place meaningfully, people who have irreconcilable political disagreements falling in different sides of the partisan aisles gradually realize that their disagreements, as real and important as they are, do not stem from having a different or contradictory set of values and morals but they are coming from ranking and emphasizing these values differently.”
— Professor Chris Bail
You can find the full podcast here.
To learn more about Professor Bail’s research, check out his book Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing (2021 Princeton University Press), and follow him on Twitter!
Professor Chris Bail is the Director of the Duke University Polarization Lab and a Professor of Sociology, Public Policy, and Data Science