People tend to hold more extreme positions on complex policies when they don’t know very much about them, according to a research article in the academic journal Psychological Science.
Research subjects stated their positions on six political policies on a scale from strongly against to strongly in favor, and then rated their understanding of the policies. After that they were asked to provide a detailed explanation of two of the policies.
“Attempting to explain policies made people feel uncertain about them, which in turn made them express more moderate views,”
In contrast, people didn’t seem to change their minds much when they were simply asked to explain why they felt they way they did about a policy.
The new research bolsters backers of “deliberative democracy,” a movement that tries to develop agreement on tough political issues by having people with different opinions get together and study potential solutions.