Mutual Receptiveness to Opposing Views Bridges Ideological Divides in Network Formation
70 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 2, 2020
We examine how an individual difference — receptiveness to opposing views — moderates the tendency for people to sort into ideologically homogeneous social groups. Although prior work has linked receptiveness to willingness to engage information from opposing ideological perspectives, its consequences for network formation have yet to be explored. Study 1 (N = 1,793) demonstrates in a lab setting that receptiveness is associated with forming relationships with ideologically opposed others. Yet preferences and relationship overtures are not always reciprocated. Study 2 (N = 599), a longitudinal field study conducted at three universities where students span the ideological spectrum, shows that individual receptiveness does not always translate into politically heterogeneous relationships. Instead, such relationships tend to form when two individuals are mutually receptive. Additionally, we find mutual receptiveness increases the likelihood that majority group members will initiate relationships with those in the minority. We discuss implications for research on personality and social networks.
Keywords: receptiveness, social networks, political ideology, homophily, group dynamics
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