The Psychology of Polarization:
A special evening with Matt Motyl and Jonathan Haidt of Civil Politics
Past event | Dinner at the Square | Spring 2011
human nature could be trouble

Did you know that highly partisan people don’t see shades of gray? We mean this literally: they don’t see the color gray. By turning our attention inward to ask how human psychology contributes to today’s divisive political climate, we’ll learn all sorts of interesting things. As co-director of Civil Politics, our special guest Matt Motyl is devoted to finding evidence-based methods for increasing political civility. Their work has been cited in media across America – including in The New York Times and the Washington Post – focuses on what happens to people when you activate the psychology of good vs. evil. And it’s not good.


Under conditions like this “compromise becomes far more difficult, reasoning becomes far less responsive to facts, and combatants begin to believe that the ends justify the means. When that happens, partisans are more willing to break laws, play dirty tricks, lie, and ruin the personal lives of their opponents – all in the service of what they think is a good cause.”

The program will include a live Skype with Dr. Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia. Joining the conversation are Dr. Ashby Plant of the Florida State University Department of Psychology and Richard Albertson of Live the Life. Facilitated by Bill Mattox and Vita Bakker.