Social Processes of Antagonism and Synergy in Deliberating Groups

Authors

  • Elzbieta Wesolowska

    Corresponding author
    1. Warmia and Mazury University in olsztyn
      Social Science Department, Warmia and Mazury University, ul.Głowackiego 17, PL-10-447 Olsztyn, Poland. Phone: +48 89 524 6238; Email: ewesolo-wska@uwm.edu.pl
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    • Elżbieta Wesołowska is Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the Social Science Department of Warmia and Mazury University in Olsztyn (Poland). Her research interests are in psychological adaptation of individuals to transition from state-governed to market economy and psychological determinants of effective private entrepreneurship. In the past year, she has taken an interest in political psychology, especially in social mechanisms of deliberation. She is author of several articles and the book Adaptation to Economic Transition: Psychological Point of View Warmia and Mazury niversity Press 2001).


Social Science Department, Warmia and Mazury University, ul.Głowackiego 17, PL-10-447 Olsztyn, Poland. Phone: +48 89 524 6238; Email: ewesolo-wska@uwm.edu.pl

Abstract

The first goal of this article is to explain the social and psychological mechanisms inherent in reaching an agreement within groups with highly divergent initial opinions. The second goal is to diagnose possible antagonistic processes in such groups. The empirical data used were obtained from recordings of focus group interviews, conducted with parents of school age children discussing the issue of sexual education in schools. The results suggest that revealing world views that justify claims made in the debate can foster agreement when the following conditions are met: (1) There exists at least some common ground in the group to serve as a starting point for agreement in other areas; (2) The articulation of different world views is not negatively evaluated or diminished by others in the group; (3) Disputants argue in their opponents' way of thinking. Another result observed is that processes other than rational analyses of the controversy can take place and can lead to agreement.

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