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The media is increasingly blamed for inflaming political animosity, but it may also bridge partisan divides—with the right strategies. Past research highlights the outgroup-experience effect: Sharing personal experiences (and not facts) helps to reduce partisan animosity. However, sharing facts is a pillar of good journalism and is essential for mediated political communication. Across four studies in two countries, we show that journalists, and citizens on social media sites, can share facts about contentious political issues (gun and climate policy), while simultaneously increasing tolerance and reducing dehumanization of political opponents. We extend the outgroup-experience effect by introducing factual content alongside personal experiences of political adversaries (i.e., a combination approach). These effects are replicated in both the United States and Germany although in Germany the personal experience intervention is only beneficial for people with more extreme attitudes.
Kubin, E., Gray, K. J., & von Sikorski, C. (2023). Reducing Political Dehumanization by Pairing Facts With Personal Experiences. Political Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12875