Adaptation In The Human Coupling with Culture: Exploring the Role of Uncertainty as a Polarizing Force From an Enactive Perspective
TWCF Number
Project Duration
September 1 / 2023
- August 31 / 2025
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Big Questions
Amount Awarded

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Markus Peschl
Institution University of Vienna

Alexander Batthyány
Institution Pázmány Péter University

How do existential elements such as meaning and uncertainty affect polarization and cultural adaptation?

This project is motivated by the large body of evidence suggesting that under conditions of uncertainty, people are more willing to defend their cultural worldviews and the meanings and values they convey. This in turn would make them react especially positively to ingroup members, people that uphold their culturally constructed beliefs, and particularly negatively to outgroup individuals. The uncertainty of a rapidly changing world and the context in which online social transmission of information is pursued have possibly intensified such reactions, paving the way for an age of post-truth, fake news, and polarization.

This project team, directed by Markus F. Peschl at University of Vienna, co-directed by Alexander Batthyány at  Viktor Frankl Institute, proposes a model in which uncertainty acceptance might act as a depolarizing force. The team will empirically test this model through an online experiment, conducted in Austria and Brazil. They will have participants have to play an economic game of social dilemmas to measure levels of cooperation in scenarios of varying uncertainty. If successful, this project has potential consequences for the understanding of depolarizing forces, as well as for the possibility of human flourishing in a context of uncertainty.

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