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Bridging the divide: The effect of humanizing information on attitudes toward political outgroup members

Koetke, Jonah (2021) Bridging the divide: The effect of humanizing information on attitudes toward political outgroup members. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Liberals and conservatives in the United States dislike and dehumanize those on the other side. This divide leads to political stalemates, destroyed relationships, and even violence. I examined the benefits of humanizing members of the political outgroup by providing people with humanizing information—cues that signal a person’s cognitive and emotional complexity. I examined the effectiveness of humanizing information in three preregistered experiments (N = 1389). Study 1 tested whether learning humanizing information about an outgroup member would reduce bias towards them, relative to a control containing only political information. Study 2 sought to replicate this effect by comparing the humanizing information to a control that contained non humanizing individuating information. Study 3 tested this effect in the timely context of social media feeds, while also testing whether the benefits of learning humanizing information extended to additional members of the outgroup. Each methodology revealed that, compared to those who read non-humanizing controls, participants who learned humanizing information about a political outgroup member were less hostile and more empathic toward that outgroup member. All three studies also provided evidence that judging the outgroup member as more human contributed to this reduction in bias. Further, Study 3 revealed that the benefits of humanizing information extended to members of the outgroup that were connected to the humanized member. The current studies thus identify a promising avenue for reducing interparty hostility.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Koetke, Jonahjak388@pitt.edujak3880000-0002-1621-5925
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchumann,
Committee MemberForest,
Committee MemberBinning,
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 May 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 22 June 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 110
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Affective Polarization; Politics; Dehumanization; Empathy; Intergroup Relations
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 18:51
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2023 05:15


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