HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Co-Director, Center for Public Leadership
Co-Director, Women and Public Policy Program
Roy E. Larsen Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management

Abstract

We examine how an individual difference — receptiveness to opposing views — moderates the tendency for people to sort into ideologically homogeneous social groups. Although prior work has linked receptiveness to willingness to engage information from opposing ideological perspectives, its consequences for network formation have yet to be explored. Study 1 (N = 1,793) demonstrates in a lab setting that receptiveness is associated with forming relationships with ideologically opposed others. Yet preferences and relationship overtures are not always reciprocated. Study 2 (N = 599), a longitudinal field study conducted at three universities where students span the ideological spectrum, shows that individual receptiveness does not always translate into politically heterogeneous relationships. Instead, such relationships tend to form when two individuals are mutually receptive. Additionally, we find mutual receptiveness increases the likelihood that majority group members will initiate relationships with those in the minority. We discuss implications for research on personality and social networks.

Citation

Reschke, Brian, Julia Minson, Hannah Riley Bowles, Mathijs De Vaan, and Sameer B. Srivastava. "Mutual Receptiveness to Opposing Views Bridges Ideological Divides in Network Formation." Social Sciences Research Network, November 2020.