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Chapter 6 offers the first look into the Discussion stage (Stage 3) of the 4D Framework. We focus on what people feel during a political discussion, captured using psychophysiological measurement during two different lab experiments. In the Psychophysiological Anticipation Study, we measure changes in participants' heart rates and skin conductance as they anticipate a political discussion. We find that individuals had a larger psychophysiological response to even the thought of engaging in a political discussion, compared to observing contentious discussions on video. In the Psychophysiological Experience Study, we measure variation in heart rate and skin conductance during real conversations. We find that individuals exhibit physiological signs of discomfort while in these conversations, especially when the conversation is disagreeable.
Under what conditions are people most likely to discuss politics? Our focus in Chapter 5 is on the moment of decision itself (Stage 2). We use three novel approaches to answer this question. The True Counterfactual Study asked participants to reflect upon and describe either political discussions in which they had recently engaged or political discussions in which they could have engaged, but chose to avoid. Comparing these descriptions revealed that avoided discussions had larger groups with more disagreement. We then used vignette experiments to manipulate various features of a conversation, finding that individuals were more likely to avoid a discussion if they were in the political minority, less knowledgeable than the others, or conversing with weak social ties. The Name Your Price studies asked people to report how much they would need to be paid to discuss various topics with different groups. Individuals demand more compensation to discuss both political and nonpolitical topics with those who disagree, especially when that disagreement is defined in terms of partisan identity.
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