Outrage 43 – How Our Brains Are Wired for Political Division – Carsten Sander

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Aired Jul 17, 2024

We’re all familiar with the scenario: a casual conversation turns political, and suddenly the room feels tense. It seems these days, even before a word is spoken, we’ve already assigned an enemy label based on a hunch or a political affiliation.

This intense polarization isn’t just causing social awkwardness; it’s impacting our ability to address critical issues. From gridlocked legislatures to stalled progress on important matters, the political divide is putting a roadblock in front of progress.

But what if there were ways to bridge this gap and start having productive conversations across the political spectrum?

In this episode, we speak with Carsten Sander, a researcher in social psychology who’s been studying the phenomenon of ideological inferences.

Sander’s work explores how our brains automatically assign political labels to people based on their behavior. His research sheds light on why we fall victim to polarization and, more importantly, how we can overcome it.

Carsten Sander is a PhD student in social psychology at University of Hamburg . His work explores how we automatically assign political labels to people based on their behavior.


Investigating mechanisms of political polarization: Perceivers spontaneously infer ideological categories from other people’s behavior (Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 54(1), 5–17)

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Outrage Overload is a podcast about the outrage industry, my journey to discover what it is, how it affects us, and what we can do about it.