Theory of Change

Joe Schuman

Divided We Fall is a mission-driven news organization. We support and defend bipartisanship and civility, not because it is easy or convenient, but because it is right. We leverage the insights and methods of leading academic researchers to maximize our impact towards the building of a more perfect union. Read more about our Theory of Change below and consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts.

What We’re Fighting Against

America is facing a historic crisis of partisanship and incivility. This complex problem is driven by political, psychological, and technological forces and impacts ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation. Here are just some of the causes and symptoms of our current dilemma:

Political

  • Ideological polarization 
  • Echo chambers 
  • Political partisanship 
  • Incivility 
  • Culture war 

Psychological

  • Confirmation bias
  • Motivated reasoning 
  • Fundamental attribution error 
  • Groupthink
  • Stereotypes

Technological

  • Internet algorithms
  • Click-bait 
  • 24-hour partisan news media
  • Infotainment
  • Disinformation

What We’re Doing

Divided We Fall’s Theory of Change is built upon a foundation of research from leading experts in academia. Our research-driven approach attempts to address the political, psychological, and technological issues that are driving political partisanship and incivility through proven interventions. 

Authors — From the “political class” (i.e. politicians, staffs, donors, activists, pundits, and professors) (Morris Fiorina, Stanford University)
  • Moral Foundations Theory (Jonathan Haidt, New York University): Humans have moral “taste buds” for certain traits including Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Loyalty/Betrayal,  Authority/Subversion, Sanctity/Degradation, and Liberty/Oppression and differences in these foundations account for different political values and viewpoints.
    • DWF intervention: Recruit and publish a diverse array of viewpoints and combine content into single publications to demonstrate different perspectives.
  • Intergroup Contact Theory (Gordon Allport, Harvard University): Interpersonal contact can reduce prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. 
    • DWF intervention: Bring together authors from both sides to engage with one another and demonstrate engagement across differences to readers.
Readers — 50% Partisans (25% Democratic/Progressive and 25% Republican/Libertarian) and 50% Independents/Centrist
  • Social Learning Theory (Albert Bandura, Stanford University): Behavior is learned from the environment by observing, modeling, and imitating. 
    • DWF intervention: Demonstrate productive disagreement across differences to our readers via our civil and civic content. 
  • Complicating the Narrative (Peter Coleman, Columbia University):  Nuance, contradiction, ambiguity, and complexity destabilizes the narrative while encouraging inquiry and mutual understanding. 
    • DWF intervention: Publish long-form narrative content from different perspectives, as opposed to simple pro-con dialogue or one-sided op-eds. 
  • Constructive Controversy (David and Roger Johnson, University of Minnesota): Cooperative, intellectual conflict holds attention and interest while also increasing open-mindedness, motivations to understand, and ability to engage in political discourse. 
    • DWF intervention: Lean into productive disagreement and highlight intellectual tension between reasonable people who disagree.

Our Impact

Through the ideas we promote, the example we set, and the community we are building, we will prevail over the forces of incivility and partisanship that are tearing our nation apart. Our vision is one of a country reunited, where civil discourse and bipartisanship triumph over reflexive intolerance and petty partisanship, and where we think, speak, and act in accordance to the better angels of our nature.

Think Differently

  • Understand your own position as well as theirs
  • Tolerate different perspectives and people
  • Question that you are right and they are wrong by challenging your assumptions

Speak Civilly 

  • Engage with the other and their ideas
  • Civil tone, language, and respect with the other
  • Bipartisanship, even-handedness, objectivity, independence

Act Civically

  • Educate yourself and those around you 
  • Connect across the aisle
  • Get Involved with the bridge-building movement by volunteering, donating, and voting. 

Our vision for a more perfect union is only possible with your help. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our efforts today. Click here to donate.

 

 

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