Schwardmann, Peter (Carnegie Mellon University)
Tripodi, Egon (University of Essex and JILAEE)
van der Weele, Joël J. (University of Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute)
Laboratory evidence shows that when people have to argue for a given position, they persuade themselves about the position’s factual and moral superiority. Such self-persuasion limits the potential of communication to resolve conflict and reduce polarization. We test for this phenomenon in a field setting, at international debating competitions that randomly assign experienced and motivated debaters to argue one side of a topical motion. We find self-persuasion in factual beliefs and confidence in one’s position. Effect sizes are smaller than in the laboratory, but robust to a one-hour exchange of arguments and a ten-fold increase in incentives for accuracy.
C93; D72; D83; D91