Strengthening Democracy

Video designed to reduce toxic polarization between Democrats and Republicans named a top intervention by the Strengthening Democracy Challenge at Stanford University

The video developed by Beyond Conflict and its research partners had the biggest impact in reducing support for political violence, and was among only three interventions to also significantly reduce anti-democratic attitudes and partisan animosity among Americans on a nationwide basis.

In 2020, Beyond Conflict’s research revealed that Democrats and Republicans grossly overestimated the gap between them on major issues as well as feelings of like and dislike. The degree of these misperceptions was found to be responsible for outcomes that are harmful to American democracy, including: support for actions that benefit one’s political party at the expense of the country; lower levels of trust in the country’s civic institutions, and a growing discomfort with, and isolation from, members of the other party. 

Following the release of the America’s Divided Mind report in 2020,Beyond Conflict and its research partners at the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania developed a video designed to correct these misperceptions. The video, which featured everyday Americans from across the country, was named one of the most effective tools to reduce support for political violence, anti-democratic attitudes and animosity across partisan lines. The competition was carried out by the Strengthening Democracy Challenge, run by the Polarization and Social Change Lab at Stanford University, which reviewed 252 submissions from around the world and chose 25 finalists for further analysis.

In the video, Democrats and Republicans rate their own views on divisive issues, such as immigration, and then guess how an average member of the other party would answer the same question. When the answers, taken from the previous America’s Divided Mind survey, were revealed, participants react with surprise as they learn how wrong their assumptions were. “There’s so much more overlap in our views than I think we realize,” said one participant.

The Strengthening Democracy Challenge evaluated the video’s effectiveness through a nationally representative study, finding that the video was the most impactful intervention to reduce support for political violence and was among the top five interventions in reducing partisan animosity and anti-democratic attitudes. Among all of the entries tested, this video was one of only three to affect all three outcomes.

Core contributors to the intervention include Samantha Moore-Berg (University of Pennsylvania), Michael Pasek (University of Illinois Chicago), Rebecca Littman (University of Illinois Chicago), Nour Kteily (Northwestern University), Roman Gallardo (University of Chicago), filmmaker Wayne Price (RoomTone), and Beyond Conflict.

Additional Resources:

WATCH:

READ:

  • Paper: Megastudy identifying successful interventions to strengthen Americans’ democratic attitudes paper
  • Description and announcement of all of winning interventions

ATTEND:

For more information on this video intervention and other work that Beyond Conflict and its partners are doing please contact:

Tim Phillips, Beyond Conflict CEO and Founder

phillips@beyondconflictint.org

Jasmine Ramsey, Beyond Conflict Program Lead

jramsey@beyondconflictint.org

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A @Beyond_Conflict video intervention was found to significantly reduce support for #politicalviolence, anti-democratic attitudes, and partisan animosity among Americans on a nationwide basis.

Learn more about the intervention & its implications: https://beyondconflictint.org/adm-video-intervention

A @Beyond_Conflict video intervention was found to significantly reduce support for #politicalviolence, anti-democratic attitudes, and partisan animosity among Americans on a nationwide basis.

Learn more about the intervention & its implications: https://beyondconflictint.org/adm-video-intervention

A @Beyond_Conflict video intervention was found to significantly reduce support for #politicalviolence, anti-democratic attitudes, and partisan animosity among Americans on a nationwide basis.

Learn more about the intervention & its implications: https://beyondconflictint.org/adm-video-intervention

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Beyond Conflict is a US-based nonprofit organization that combines three decades of experience in conflict resolution with brain and behavioral science to strengthen peace processes around the world.  Over the past several years we have been deploying research from brain and behavioral science to address some of the most intractable challenges we face – from deepening identity based polarization to the causes of social division that threaten American Democracy. The America’s Divided Mind initiative includes support for a robust program of applied social scientific research designed to inform practical approaches to enable an environment for transformational social change and democratic renewal in the US.