i caught a bit of a really interesting program on sbs last week which included some research about the way that people form and change their beliefs. Apparently it used to be that if you put a group of people who held similar beliefs in a conversation together, they would moderate each other so that at the end their beliefs would be less extreme. If you do the same now, research indicates that people will instead push each other to a more extreme position. [The change seemed to happen in the 1960s].
What was particularly interesting was that they brought in some information about the internet, and in particular blogging. The comment was made that although blogging lets more and more people share their views, people will rarely change their mind about a topic of conversation through a blog – rather, they’ll look for the opinions that confirm their view, and by the end of a conversation they will hold the same views but more strongly.
the research indicates the same tendency across political, religious and social issues.