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Depolarizing American voters: Democrats and Republicans are equally susceptible to false attitude feedback

Fig 1

Paper survey.

Participants filled out a paper survey rating Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on 12 leadership traits, such as courageous and diplomatic. In the experimental group, while participants rated the candidates, we discreetly looked at their ratings and filled out an identical slip of paper with the majority of their polarized ratings shifted closer to the midpoint (A). When the participants finished the survey, we briefly took it and covertly pasted our paper slip with the manipulated moderate responses on top of the participants’ original responses (B). We then asked the participants to explain some of their (manipulated) ratings. Next, we overlaid a transparent sheet that categorized their ratings into: favoring Trump, favoring Clinton, or “open-minded” (i.e., neutral). Together with the participants, we tallied their ratings and asked them to explain their overall score. All participants in the experimental group now had a primarily open-minded score (C). The participants in the control group did not receive any manipulations and instead explained their own original score. (Politician photographs from Wikimedia Commons).

Fig 1