Beliefs about Deliberation: Personal and Normative Dimensions


  • Funding for the research reported in this article came from The Pew Charitable Trusts (#2002-000748), between 2002 and 2004. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The authors wish to thank Mike Illuzzi, Beth Haney, Gillian Lawrence, Krista Henley, Corrie Hunt, Tiffany Burkhardt, Diana Fu, and Alex Reed for their research assistance during different phases of this research project. We also wish to thank Wendy Rahn and Jeffrey D. Long for their statistical advice at various stages of this project, and Ludwin Molina and Rick Battistoni for their astute comments on an earlier version of this article.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Eugene Borgida, Department of Psychology, 75 East River Road, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455 [e-mail:].


Democratic deliberative theory has long emphasized the importance of citizen deliberation as a form of political participation and a centrally important component of any vital democracy. Public deliberation and discourse among citizens has been less frequently investigated as a form of political participation than more standard indicators such as voting or volunteering for political organizations. This research examines the extent to which internalized beliefs about deliberation are associated with deliberation outcome measures among a national sample of high school students participating in a year-long deliberation forum, Project 540. Using a multilevel analysis, the research specifically tested the extent to which scales of personal and normative deliberation beliefs, independently and moderated by Project 540 participation, predict key deliberative outcomes (e.g., civic skills, intention to participate in civic affairs). We find that predeliberation endorsement of both personal and normative beliefs predicts increases in certain positive deliberative outcomes, and that these effects are not moderated by participation in Project 540. The implications of these findings for deliberative democracy theory and for developing effective citizen deliberation forums are discussed.