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December 16th, 2012, 14:57
Jonathan Haidt, which is one of the authors of the mentioned article, were one of the reasons I begun studying psychology in the first place. That said, the perceived polarization isn't a new notion… There have been quite a few articles that stressed the growing problem of polarization in the US and the reasons for this trend. I used several of those articles as foundation for my own research on group polarization, prejudice and discrimination.

One reason is that news often use maps like this, that creates an illusion of two competing groups, without middleground and without minorities. The "accentuation effect" is when the presence of a category increases perceived differences. Political dichotomies can thus create rifts where no great difference exist in the first place (such as the workers vs. business owners dichotomy in Marxism or the men vs. women dichotomy).

Oversimplification is sometimes necessary to bring forth social change, but it may also lead to more issues and stronger opposition than what existed in the first place.

Some have argued that one solution is to stress the use of "purple" maps instead;

Compare with Sweden which is a lot harder to divide due to the many different parties in the government. We have a lot of within-blue competion and within-red competition, because we have several parties within each color.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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