Polarization concept
Oct 3, 2023

Templeton World Charity Foundation Announces Recently Awarded Listening and Learning in a Polarized World (LLPW) Grants

New research aims to help advance human flourishing in a world confronted with polarization.

By Templeton Staff

Listening and Learning in a Polarized World (LLPW) supports research for new scientific discoveries that can help humans flourish in a world confronted with increasing volumes of polarization.

Polarization is one of the defining challenges of our time. The term polarization is used today in a variety of contexts with different meanings — a base working definition is that it’s a state in which the opinions, beliefs, or interests of a group no longer range along a continuum but become concentrated at opposing extremes. The possibility of solving existential problems, like global climate change, like war, like famine, is hindered when we're separated by polarization. Polarization is a critical barrier to flourishing. Learn why we study polarization in this piece from TWCF advisors Eric Marshall and Virginia Cooper.

Templeton World Charity Foundation is invested in supporting coordinated science around polarization. In late autumn 2022 / early winter 2023, we put out a Request for Proposals (RFP), seeking to fund projects to advance the knowledge base for researchers aiming to measure and map polarization between and within societies and cultures. We are pleased to announce the following recent recipients as a result of that RFP. Visit each project linked below to learn more about the research funded.

Project: Testing the causal impact of social media on polarization around the globe A field experiment conducted by hundreds of researchers in 20+ countries will incentivize participants to temporarily deactivate their Facebook accounts.
Director: Jay Van Bavel
Co-Director: Joshua Tucker
Institution: New York University
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31570
Amount awarded: $249,999 USD

Project: Perceptions of source independence and polarization: integrating computational modelling, cross cultural analysis, and experimental psychology to understand and counter polarization Testing a Bayesian model of opinion polarization is a focus of this work.
Director: Lee de-Wit
Institution: University of Cambridge
Co-Director: Jens Madsen
Institution: London School of Economics
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31453
Amount awarded: $248,252 USD

Project: Individual and cross-cultural differences in the attraction to political extremes How does the preference for interacting with individuals who hold extreme political views play a role in who individuals select to interact with?
Director: Joaquin Navajas
Institution: Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
Co-Director: Amit Goldenberg
Institution: Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31322
Amount awarded: $248,400 USD

Project: Is it sometimes rational to believe things that aren’t true? Evaluating a normative standard for when beliefs should and shouldn’t change This project aims to develop a unified computational framework, capturing theoretical accounts of biased belief revision.
Director: Daphna Buchsbaum
Institution: Brown University
Co-Director: William Cunningham
Institution: University of Toronto
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31517
Amount awarded: $247,276 USD

Project: Reducing Polarization Through Scalable Cooperation Can mutually beneficial cooperation help reduce strong negative feelings between people? 
Director: Joshua Greene
Institution: Harvard University
Co-Director: Scott Warren
Institution: Global Development Incubator
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31463
Amount awarded: $250,000 USD

Project: Forgiveness and reconciliation rituals: Pathways to depolarization for adolescents in rural Kenya, Cameroon, and Ethiopia Do adolescents who participate in these rituals embrace peaceful conflict resolution processes? 
Director: Pamela Wadende
Institution: Kisii University
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31580
Amount awarded: $249,714 USD

Project: Listening to learn: Modeling the depolarizing impacts of learning goals during conversations in which people disagree Does listening to others with the goal of learning about their viewpoint predict psychological safety and open-mindedness, decreasing polarization?
Director: Kenneth DeMarree
Institution: The Research Foundation for the State University of New York at Buffalo
Co-Director: Guy Itzchakov
Institution: University of Haifa
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31519
Amount awarded: $250,000 USD

Project: Adaptation In The Human Coupling with Culture: Exploring the Role of Uncertainty as a Polarizing Force From an Enactive Perspective Through an online game of social dilemmas designed to measure levels of cooperation in scenarios of varying uncertainty, this project aims to test if uncertainty acceptance might act as a depolarizing force.
Director: Markus F. Peschl
Institution: University of Vienna
Co-Director: Alexander Batthyány
Institution: Pázmány Péter University
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31374
Amount awarded: $156,690 USD

Project: #Harmony: Building a model of social media influencer-instigated depolarization in India, Indonesia and Iraq Instead of adding to the body of literature on the disruptive consequences of polarization, this project aims to shed light on the possibilities of individuals connecting people and fostering cohesion.
Director: Johannes Gerrit de Kruijf
Institution: Utrecht University
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31643
Amount awarded: $249,951 USD

Project: Depolarization in Disagreements through High-quality Listening This project aims to model high-quality listening as a depolarizing agent in discussions centering around social causes, and plans to test this model across four cultures (Israel, the UK, Hong Kong, and Peru).
Director: Guy Itzchakov
Institution: University of Haifa
Co-Director:  Netta Weinstein
Institution: University of Reading
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31592
Amount awarded: $250,000 USD

Project: Dialógica: New Perspectives on Polarization Indigenous, Afro-Brazilian, caboclo, and academic intellectuals will dialogue, develop, and test theories of alterity and polarization in modern societies, and suggest how their traditions of dialogue, ritual, and practice may be able to contribute to transcending it.
Director: Kurt Shaw
Institution: Usina da Imaginação
Co-Director: Rita de Cácia Oenning da Silva
Institution: Usina da Imaginação
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31545
Amount awarded: $249,100 USD

Project: Breaking the polarization cycle: Equipping children from diverse cultural contexts to flexibly integrate contrasting ideas by harnessing the cultural and contextual mechanisms which lead to polarized beliefs during development This project aims to measure when and how inflexible beliefs are formed, and what motivates — or suppresses — their revision, across three diverse cultures: Germans, Bandongo fisher-farmers, and BaYaka hunter-gatherers from the Republic of the Congo.
Director: Sarah Pope-Caldwell
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
DOI: https://doi.org/10.54224/31518
Amount awarded: $242,617 USD

Search our Projects Database to stay up to date on the latest awarded grants.