Humanosity says the more time we spend online usually means we spend less time actually talking to each other face to face. Whilst this has all sorts of consequences but it accentuates the echo chamber effect. This article shows what happens to political views when people actually talk face to face.
According to an experiment called America in One Room, the experience of spending time talking face to face with other voters moves Americans toward a rosier view of how American democracy works.
“People do not think their voice matters, and they talk to the like-minded, and they are dispirited and inattentive,” said Jim Fishkin, director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford and one of the creators of this research method.
The experiment was conducted with more than 500 participants from 47 states who gathered in Grapevine, Texas over the course of a weekend.
Researchers selected a representative sample of Americans to come to a single location and spend four days discussing the merits of five issues at the heart of American politics today: health care, immigration, the economy, foreign policy and the environment. They answered survey questions about their views on those topics, and on the major party candidates running for president in 2020, both before and after their weekend of deliberation.
The results were eye opening.
Overall, the share of those who participated in the event who felt that American democracy is working well rose from 30% before the event to 60% afterwards. Participants also became more understanding of the motivations of those participants who held different political views:
The percentage who thought people who disagree strongly with their policy views have “good reasons” for their positions rose from 37% to 54%, while the percentage who thought their political opposites were “not thinking clearly” dropped from 51% to 33%. Further, 95% agreed that by participating, they had “learned a lot about people very different from me.”