Polarization is the psychological foundation of collective engagement

Laura G. E. Smith (Lead / Corresponding author), Emma F. Thomas, Ana-Maria Bliuc, Craig McGarty

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The term polarization is used to describe both the division of a society into opposing groups (political polarization), and a social psychological phenomenon (group polarization) whereby people adopt more extreme positions after discussion. We explain how group polarization underpins the political polarization phenomenon: Social interaction, for example through social media, enables groups to form in such a way that their beliefs about what should be done to change the world—and how this differs from the stance of other groups—become integrated as aspects of a new, shared social identity. This provides a basis for mobilization to collective action.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Number of pages13
JournalCommunications Psychology
Early online date6 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2024


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