Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
FRN, ERP, EEG, politics, conversation, discourse, deliberative democracy, democrat, republicans
Exposure to different political opinions, particularly through contested, political discussion, has been theorized as playing a major role in shaping a more tolerant society (Chambers, 2003). Survey data suggests that these conversations are typically viewed as unpleasant, and thus often avoided among most Americans (Conover, Searing, and Crewe, 2012). Research using time-locked, electrical brain recordings or Event-Related Potentials (ERP), especially the Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN), has been previously associated the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) processing of prediction error (Gehring & Willoughby, 2002) and conformity (Chen, Wu, Tong, Guan, & Zhao, 2012). The present study assessed the FRN for indications of willingness to discuss politics, by orthogonally presenting participants from the two major political parties with potential discussion partners of congruent and incongruent political parties (party congruency) and stances on political issues (opinion congruency). It was hypothesized that trials in which either a presented discussion partner’s opinion or political affiliation were incongruent with the participant would elicit the FRN. Trials in which the participant and discussion partner’s political affiliation was congruent and issue opinion was incongruent were expected to generate larger FRNs than trials in which both differed because disagreement between members of the same affiliation should induce stronger cognitive dissonance (Chen et al., 2012). Finally, in replication of Amodio, Jost, Master, and Yee (2007) democrats were expected to exhibit larger FRN responses to incongruences than republicans. Results indicated that democrats produced more negative FRN responses when presented with discussion partners of the same political position and the same political party suggesting that democrats went into the present study’s task expecting disagreement from those of their own party.
Eberle, Annika, "Discussing Different Topics With Others: Electrical Insights Into Political Conversation" (2020). Honors Theses. 2493.
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