Stanford PACS: New Study Uses Crowdsourcing to Strengthen American Democracy | Companies


PALO ALTO, Calif .– (BUSINESS WIRE) – Dec. July 2021–

Americans have always divided politics, but now anti-democratic attitudes, support for partisan violence, and partisan hostility have reached a level. While there are many ideas for addressing these issues, they have never been collected, tested, or evaluated in a single effort. To fill this gap Stanford Polarization and Social Change Lab starts a big new initiative. The challenge to strengthen democracy will collect and rigorously test up to 25 interventions to reduce anti-democratic attitudes, support for partisan violence, and partisan hostility in a massive online experiment with up to 30,000 participants. Interventions can be contributed by academics, practitioners, or others interested in strengthening democratic principles in the United States. The researchers who organize the challenge – a multidisciplinary team with members from Stanford Universities, MIT, Northwestern, and Columbia – believe that crowdsourcing ideas, combined with the rigor of large-scale experiments, can help tackle problems as substantial and complex as these.

“Anti-democratic attitudes and support for political violence are alarming levels in the US. We know partisan hostility has been increasing for years and could play a role in the worrying anti-democratic stance we are seeing, “said Robb Willer, Director of the Polarization and Social Change Lab and Professor of Sociology at Stanford. “We see this project as an opportunity to identify effective interventions and also to deepen our understanding of the forces that shape these political feelings.”

“There are many ways to reduce anti-democratic attitudes, support for partisan violence and partisan hostility. We designed our project to achieve goals that go beyond the scale of typical scientific studies, ”said Jan Völkel, a Ph.D. Stanford student and one of the co-organizers of the challenge. “The Strengthening Democracy Challenge values ​​the relative effectiveness of different interventions, provides a high quality test facility for academics and practitioners who may not currently have access, unifies current knowledge across various social sciences and practitioners, and advocates impartial and complete reporting of the Results.”

Crowdsourcing interventions

The team organizing the challenge consists of scientists from the fields of political science, psychology, sociology and economics. You will work closely with practitioners to ensure the challenge is accessible not only to academics but also to contributors from nonprofit and non-academic stakeholders working on these issues. You plan to promote interventions through crowdsourcing and evaluate them scientifically in one of the largest survey experiments ever carried out.

“Our lab has worked a lot on these results, but we believe the most efficient way to identify promising interventions is to gather insights from the largest possible community of thinkers, not just academics. So we started this, our first mass collaboration project, to intensify our efforts to collaborate with colleagues from different fields and practitioners, ”explained Willer. “We were inspired by other mass collaboration projects such as Axelrod’s classic prisoner’s dilemma tournament, the Fragile family challenge, and the Open science collaborations. Promising ideas on crowdsourcing and then testing them in parallel is a convincing model for efficiently producing a lot of knowledge, ”explains Willer.

Researchers with different backgrounds and perspectives are invited to Submit interventions. Suggested interventions must be short, feasible on an online form, and follow the ethical guidelines of the challenge. Academic and practical experts will evaluate the submissions and an editorial team will narrow down the 25 best submissions for consideration, taking into account the novelty and expected success of the ideas. The co-organizers of the challenge include James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University; David Rand, the Erwin H. Schell Professor and Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT; James Chu, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University; and Nick Stagnaro, Postdoctoral fellow at MIT. The organization team is supported by Polarization and Social Change Labs Chrystal Redekopp, Joe Mernyk, and Sophia Pink.

Study participants will be a large sample of up to 30,000 self-proclaimed Republicans and Democrats who are nationally representative of several key demographic benchmarks.

Submit to the challenge

“The challenge offers the senders many reasons to participate, above all the opportunity to work on these pressing social problems,” said Willer.

Participants in these interventions, selected for testing, learn whether their idea worked, receive authorship for a scientific paper, and are recognized at a conference organized by Stanford’s Polarization and Social Change Lab, PACS, the Civic Health Project, and the Fetzer Institute is organized. The results of the Strengthening Democracy Challenge will be presented to the public at this conference. A cash prize of up to $ 15,000 will be shared between the teams who submit interventions that significantly reduce anti-democratic attitudes; the same amount will be split between the teams submitting interventions that significantly reduce support for partisan violence, and an additional award of up to $ 15,000 will be given to those whose interventions significantly reduce partisan hostility.

The Strengthening Democracy Challenge is supported by Stanfords Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the citizen health project, and the Fetzer Institute. To learn more about the challenge, visit a comprehensive website for guidelines, a submission manual, application links, and contact for any questions before and during submission.

Written by Djurdja Jovanovic Padejski

Digital Engagement Manager, Stanford PACS

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CONTACT: Robb Willer, Sociology: (607) 339-6466

[email protected], @RobbWillerChrystal Redekopp, Stanford PASCL Research Director:

[email protected]




Copyright Business Wire 2021.

PUB: 07/21/2021 2:39 p.m. / DISC: 07/21/2021 2:39 p.m.

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