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Given the many contexts in which people have difficulty engaging with views that disagree with their own—from political discussions to workplace conflicts—it is critical to understand how conflictual conversations can be improved. Whereas previous work has focused on strategies to change individual-level mindsets (e.g., encouraging open-mindedness), the present study investigated the role of partners’ beliefs about their counterparts. Across seven preregistered studies (N = 2,614 adults), people consistently underestimated how willing disagreeing counterparts were to learn about opposing views (compared with how willing participants were themselves and how willing they believed agreeing others would be). Further, this belief strongly predicted greater derogation of attitude opponents and more negative expectations for conflictual conversations. Critically, in both American partisan politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a short informational intervention that increased beliefs that disagreeing counterparts were willing to learn about one’s views decreased derogation and increased willingness to engage in the future. We built on research recognizing the power of the situation to highlight a fruitful new focus for conflict research.


Collins, Hanne K., Charles A. Dorison, Francesca Gino, and Julia A. Minson. "Underestimating Counterparts’ Learning Goals Impairs Conflictual Conversations." Psychological Science 33.10 (October 2022): 1732-1752.