What is it about?

When asked for their opinions about hot-button issues like COVID-19 policy, gun control, or LGBTQ+ rights, people sometimes choose to "stay out of it" by expressing a preference not to take sides at all. This research explores how we react to people who try not to take sides. Results from eleven experiments suggest that "staying out of it" can backfire. Although people expect that opting not to take sides can help them avoid charged moral conflicts, staying out of it often provokes distrust and disdain, sometimes more so than disagreeing with one's audience outright.

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Why is it important?

Recent years have seen an explosion of concern about political polarization and ideological conflict, critical threats to a well-functioning democratic system. Our work helps to fill in the picture of social forces that encourage people to take sides, and it highlights a reputational risk awaiting those who try not to do so.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: When and why “staying out of it” backfires in moral and political disagreements., Journal of Experimental Psychology General, April 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xge0001201.
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