Research Projects


Changing Attitudes in Public Discourse (sub-award of Humility & Conviction in Public Life)

Political opinions in many Western-style democracies show signs of increasing polarisation. This has coincided with a change of tone in debates. Seemingly arrogant behaviours like shouting, mocking, dismissing or rudely interrupting other people during discussions seem more frequent and widespread.

In this multidisciplinary project we develop and test some practical interventions designed to combat these behaviours which we predict are caused by defensive attitudes. We focus on self-affirmation techniques, which help people affirm their self-worth by thinking about the values that matter to them. We will test whether these techniques help to reduce defensiveness, leading to a reduction in intellectual arrogance and to greater humility in debate.