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Polarization (psychology)

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In communications and social psychology, polarization is the process whereby a social or political group is divided into two opposing sub-groups with fewer and fewer members of the group remaining neutral or holding an intermediate position.

When polarization occurs, there is a tendency for the opposing sides of an argument to make increasingly disagreeable statements, via the "pendulum effect". Thus, it is commonly observed in polarized groups, that judgments made after group discussion will be more extreme on a given subject than the average of individual judgments made prior to discussion.

Also called 'group polarization'; used to be called the 'risky shift phenomenon', with particular reference to jury decision-making.

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