Many Labs Learning to Listen
TWCF Number
Project Duration
October 1 / 2023
- September 30 / 2026
Core Funding Area
Big Questions
Amount Awarded

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Netta Weinstein
Institution The University of Reading

Guy Itzchakov
Institution University of Haifa

Some of the greatest thinkers on spirituality, human growth, and flourishing have argued that listening well to others (interpersonal listening) is a keystone of constructive communication and social connection. Growing conceptual and empirical literature suggests that interpersonal listening holds power to build mutual understanding that bridges divisions and reduces polarization. This project aims to understand the experiences of speakers sharing their disparate views – both the universal core characteristics and nuances across cultures. Specifically, five international labs working collaboratively will focus on the expression and experience of listening as a behavior and its downstream impacts on depolarization processes that moderate extreme, rigid, and narrow-minded views.

The project, directed by Netta Weinstein at The University of Reading, aims to test four research questions designed to understand listening and its consequences:

  1. What is the nature of listening shared across cultures (what is at the heart of listening)?
  2. How much variability is there across cultures, and where does the variability lie (which behaviors are culturally bound rather than culturally transcendent)?
  3. How do speakers respond when they are listened to well during a disagreement (e.g., in terms of their willingness to engage in dialogue and perceived division)?
  4. Which psychological mechanisms (e.g., autonomy, relatedness, lower defensiveness) underlie speakers’ benefits?

Alongside these scientific aims, they have a meta-scientific aim to develop a procedure for researchers working collaboratively to listen to one another, producing robust and reproducible research in a way that supports researcher autonomy while recognizing and reconciling disagreements. The end goal is culturally embedded research that yields robust causal inferences, finding the ideal balance of etic (top-down investigation of universal principles) and emic (culturally sensitive, collaborative bottom-up) empirical procedures.

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