America’s Divided Mind: The Psychology that Drives Us Apart

THU, SEP 24, 2020

Deepening toxic polarization in the United States is a profound threat to the American people and the very core of American Democracy. After 30 years of working around the globe to bring peace and reconciliation to deeply divided societies, Beyond Conflict launched an unprecedented research project in 2018, the Beyond Conflict Polarization Index™, with leading brain and behavioral scientists to assess the psychological factors that fuel polarization. The study found a consistent pattern across measures: Americans incorrectly believe that members of the other party dehumanize, dislike, and disagree with them about twice as much as they actually do. These false perceptions about the other side are correlated with outcomes that are consequential for democracy and represent a new degree of toxic polarization in America.

Watch a conversation with Tim Phillips, founder and CEO, Beyond Conflict and Scott Warren, visiting scholar, SNF Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University, moderated by Michal Ben-Joseph Hirsch, assistant professor, Political Science & Legal Studies Department, Suffolk University. Phillips presents the key findings of Beyond Conflict’s latest study on toxic polarization and discuss potential solutions to depolarize the public space.

Image: Beyond Conflict Graphic

+ BIO: Scott Warren

Scott Warren is the Chief Executive Officer of Generation Citizen. He co-founded the organization at Brown University with fellow student Anna Ninan during their senior year, working with students in the local Providence community. From that starting point in 2008, Scott has grown Generation Citizen to become one of the preeminent civics education organizations in the country, promoting Action Civics across diverse geographies through best-in-class programming and concrete policy change. Scott has served as a Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Brown University and Tufts University, and published a book in 2019, Generation Citizen: The Power of Youth in Politics.

Scott was named an Echoing Green Fellow in 2010, and a Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow in 2012. He continues to write on subjects ranging youth political engagement to African politics to sports, and has been published and featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Education Week, the New York Daily News, Huffington Post, San Diego Union Tribune, Sports Illustrated, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Providence Journal.

+ BIO: Timothy Phillips

Tim Phillips is the founder and CEO of Beyond Conflict, a non-profit organization that works with civic, non-profit and community leaders to address conflict and promote social change in the United States and abroad.

Since 1992, Beyond Conflict has created powerful and innovative frameworks to open pathways for progress in peace talks, transitions to democracy, and national reconciliation in the aftermath of division and violence in over 75 countries. Tim led efforts to catalyze the peace and reconciliation processes in several nations, including Northern Ireland, El Salvador, and South Africa. He has also advised the United Nations, the U.S Department of State, and the Council of Europe.

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