Affective forecasting and political partisanship


aka "The Jackal"
People selectively seek political views that match their own partly because they overestimate how upset they will be by just listening to the other side. This reduces dialogue and increases polarization.

In an experimental study, Dorison questioned Clinton voters before listening to Trump, and Trump voters before listening to Clinton. Each rated how disturbing the speech would be. After listening, they were quizzed on the content of the speech to see if they actually listened, and then asked to repeat the questionnaire, expressing how upset they actually were.

Active listeners were far less upset than they predicted, while those who failed to follow the speech were still quite upset. In fact, those who listened were able to find some points upon which they agreed.

I think it's interesting that we create echo chambers to avoid what we think will happen when the reality is far less confrontational. On many occasions on social media I realize that a person is reacting to what they assume a conservative will say rather than what was actually said. It could be that the straw man is in some instances a defense mechanism.