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Pernicious Polarization: A Global Threat to Democracy

Friday, February 15, 2019, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm


McCoy will discuss her research on pernicious polarization -- the political polarization that divides electorates into mutually distrustful “Us vs. Them” camps, extends into social relations and becomes a social identity, and undermines the capacity of democracies to address critical policy problems. She has recently published two special issues in American Behavioral Scientist and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences compiling research by an international research group she coordinated the last three years, examining the mechanisms giving rise to such polarization and its consequences for democracy in a comparative perspective.  She will also outline the second (current) phase of the project to examine the micro-level political psychology of polarization, its impact on political behavior, relationship to populism, and potential strategies to mitigate its negative consequences.