How the Intolerable Becomes Acceptable

Public opinion can often seem mercurial. Obamacare was widely unpopular—until it took effect. The Republican tax plan was widely derided when it was proposed and debated, but people now seem to be warming to it. Why the shifts? New research offers one likely answer: Once something becomes real, we are […] Read more »

Exploring ‘Truth Decay’

Over the past two decades, the role of facts and analysis in American public life has been diminishing, posing a threat to democracy and policymaking. With donor support, RAND president and CEO Michael Rich initiated a project with RAND political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh to investigate the phenomenon of “Truth Decay.” […] Read more »

Powerful or warm? Liberal and conservative voters favor different traits in a politician

Several decades of research in political and electoral behaviour have concluded that a candidate’s personality matters when voters cast their ballots. Unsurprisingly, the main take-away from most of these studies is that voters tend to vote for candidates that they find appealing. However, existing research is still unclear about the […] Read more »

Does ‘us’ need ‘them’?

Democrats and Republicans dislike each other more than ever before. Donald Trump won the White House, in part, by creating an identity for his followers — distinguishing sharply between an aggrieved “us” and a guilty “them.” Disregarding the definitional problems I’ve treated before, America feels deeply polarized. How did that […] Read more »

Beyond Misinformation: Understanding and coping with the post-truth era

The terms “post-truth” and “fake news” have become increasingly prevalent in public discourse over the last year. This article explores the growing abundance of misinformation, how it influences people, and how to counter it. We examine the ways in which misinformation can have an adverse impact on society. We summarize […] Read more »

How Norms Change

… Understanding the psychology of changing norms starts from a simple insight: although we may wish to be perfectly rational and impartial, bias is an inescapable part of what it means to be human. … The question, therefore, isn’t “Do biases exist?” but, rather, “How much do we let them […] Read more »