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WorkgroupPerception and Action Lab
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

The polarization of attitudes and opinions about political, societal, or scientific issues on the Internet is generally held to be a challenge for a functioning democracy. Research on this topic is dominated by the view that polarization is caused by a preference for reading attitudinally congenial information and a preference for interacting with like-minded others in echo chambers. Is attitudinal unison the only factor that leads to polarization?

This project forwards a complementary view by investigating whether the interaction with counter-attitudinal information can also give rise to attitude polarization. In a number of experiments it was shown that humans have a preference for congenial content when they want to get informed about a topic but that they also have a preference for uncongenial information when they want to discuss a controversial topic with others. Replying to opposing opinions may then lead to a strengthening and polarization of existing attitudes. The project investigates the condition under which a polarization via interaction with uncongenial information may occur, with a particular focus on cognitive and metacognitive processes. To investigate these questions, the project uses a mixture of controlled experiments and analyses of field data (e.g., from online discussion forums or Twitter).

Results of this project can contribute to a better understanding of how societal polarization arises, and they also offer pathways on how to mitigate polarization effects.


Buder, J., Rabl, L., Feiks, M., Badermann, M., & Zurstiege, G. (2021). Does negatively toned language use on social media lead to attitude polarization? Computers in Human Behavior, 116, Article 106663.

Buttliere, B., & Buder, J. (2017). Reading more vs. writing back: Situation affordances drive reactions to conflicting information on the Internet. Computers in Human Behavior, 74, 330-336. request document

Buder, J., Schwind, C., Rudat, A., & Bodemer, D. (2015). Selective reading of large online forum discussions: The impact of rating visualizations on navigation and learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 44, 191-201.


PD Dr. Jürgen Buder PD Dr. Jürgen Buder
Tel.: +49 7071 979-326