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Abstract Introduction: Americans increasingly sort themselves into opposing political camps – and it is not entirely clear why. The purpose of this research is to better understand the individual factors that inhibit people or make them less willing to have conversations with one another across the ideological divide. Methods: To offer first insights into this phenomenon, 30 students from a regional university in the South were interviewed using an unstructured format. Couched in a grounded theory framework, the interviews focused on the nature, content and outcomes of the students’ conversations. Interviews were recorded and transcribed using QSR’s Al-based transcription service. The resulting transcripts were proofread for accuracy and then uploaded into NVIVO 12.0 to be analyzed using an inductive-deductive coding approach. Results: Preliminary findings suggest three major processes that students use when navigating political conversations: communicational mechanisms, conflict management, and information processing. These three major themes encompass a range of personal factors that prevents students from engaging in conversations with those that do not share their political convictions. It will be argued that, interpersonal stress is the main individual factor that contributes to lack of willingness to have conversations. Additionally, the investment and passion of students in their own political views, prevents them from engaging in the political views of others. Discussion & Conclusion: Theoretical explanations will be discussed using an identity theory framework. This could suggest that based on group membership, each individual may face a unique barrier during political encounters. Suggestions for future research and implications will be discussed.

Keywords Civic culture, identity, interpersonal communication, political discourse, political divide.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Sociology & Human Services

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
  • Event date
    • 26 March 2021

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Toralf Zschau