It’s no surprise that American politics have become increasingly divisive in recent times. However, an interesting new study from California reveals that there is still potential for civil debate and discussion amongst conservatives and liberals—at least regarding digital platforms.
Liberals and Conservatives can hold cordial discussions on Zoom
A team of conservatives and liberals were able to conduct fruitful and cordial political debates when such debates occurred through the video conferencing service Zoom, according to UCLA scientists.
The results are particularly intriguing in light of how toxic public discussion has grown in the majority of online contexts, including media platforms. However, having a face-to-face conversation on the Zoom platform differs from debating a stranger on Twitter. The majority of survey respondents who were directed to speak privately on Zoom with someone who had opposing political views found a natural connection with that individual. Moreover, according to the study’s authors, it typically acknowledged having an enhanced experience than anticipated.
Video conferencing could help political temperatures in the US
Overall, experts think their work indicates that video conferencing may be a highly helpful tool in mending the country’s current political split. However, they emphasize that there are some restrictions to take into account. For example, if or not the public watched the discussions and whether it seemed like they were affecting how much conflict the members were having.
UCLA professor of Psychology and study author Matthew Lieberman said, “Most studies about cross-ideological communication are either written retrospectively about past experiences or speculatively, but almost no one has looked at what happens when people actually have the conversation.”
From all throughout the US, the research group assembled a group of participants that were either very liberal or very conservative politically. Each member of the team was tasked with imagining the course of a discussion with an adversary and how they’d likely feel afterward.
However, most participants reported that they engaged in less disagreement and considered the discussion easier, more fun, and less distressing than they’d anticipated.