Winter seminar series examines political polarization


The Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research will host an interdisciplinary winter seminar series to deepen understanding of why political polarization in the United States is so high — and what, if anything, can be done about it.

The series, which is free and open to the public, kicks off Jan. 23 with William Brady of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. His talk will focus on how people overperceive moral outrage in online social networks, a dynamic that holds consequences for intergroup hostility.

The series will run from 3:30-5 p.m. Mondays through mid-April in Room 1430 of the ISR Building, 426 Thompson St. It includes 12 seminars, and speakers include:

  • U-M psychologist David Dunning, best known as the co-identifier of the Dunning-Kruger effect, who will speak Feb. 13 on the role of emotion in political thought and conflict, including why we hold false beliefs.
  • Political communication expert Yanna Krupnikov of U-M, whose March 6 talk will focus on social media “unfriending” due to polarization and political disagreement on social networks.
  • Stanford political scientist Shanto Iyengar, who will address taking stock of affective research on polarization March 20.
  • Northwestern psychologist Eli Finkel, who will speak April 3 about whether partisanship poses a threat to the American republic and if political hatred is a distorted perception of opposing partisans.

A full lineup of speakers is available the Research Center for Group Dynamics website. Seminars will be recorded and available on the RCGD’s website and ISR’s YouTube channel.

The series is organized by Amie Gordon, faculty associate at RCGD and assistant professor of psychology.

The Group Dynamics Seminar series is considered one of the oldest seminar series in the social sciences, running uninterruptedly since it was founded by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1920s in Berlin.



  1. Sandra Hines-Kuhn
    on January 18, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    Is the series available virtually?

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