Abstract and Keywords
How does research from political and social psychology inform expectations for deliberation? In this chapter, we review two aspects of such research: the structure of individual belief systems and the role of group-based forces. Considerable evidence has shown that low levels of political knowledge, ideological inconsistency, and a vulnerability to framing effects are common elements of citizen belief systems. These represent both a challenge and an opportunity for deliberative forums. Evidence shows that deliberation can, under the right circumstances, interrupt typical cognitive patterns and produce more thoughtful and informed political judgments. But the extent to which deliberation has such salutary effects also depends on group-level dynamics and norms. We review three important types of group effects: group polarization, the effects of preference diversity on group interactions, and how unequal social identities can shape deliberative exchanges. The social and psychological forces present in deliberating groups require considerable additional study.
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