Today in the United States and elsewhere we see the troubling effects of increasingly polarized political discourse: increased gridlock within government, the politicization and fragmentation of economic and social life, and the suppression of the spread of information and mutual learning across ideological lines. The causes and effects of polarization are too complex to be studied within the confines of a single discipline, and its exploration therefore requires participation and collaboration from scholars in many different fields.

This working group links researchers in cognitive neuroscience; behavioral economics; social, evolutionary, cognitive, and moral psychology; sociology; communication sciences; anthropology; evolutionary sciences; political science; and philosophy. The group’s leaders—Michael Gazzaniga, a University of California, Santa Barbara, neuropsychologist, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, a philosopher at Duke—have been designing a series of workshops during this and next academic year. They then seek to move toward a larger coordinated research effort to be conducted, should the quest for research funds succeed, focused on key interlocking areas of inquiry.