#68: Alexandra Chesterfield on Being a Conservative in a Liberal Environment

Alexandra Chesterfield is co-author of the book Poles Apart: Why People Turn Against Each Other, and How to Bring Them Together. It's a look at political polarization in our society, how we've gotten to this point, and what we can do about it. Jonathan Haidt called it "A fascinating read, which will help anyone who wants to step out of the polarization cycle and become part of the solution." Alex has a masters degree in Cognitive and Decision Science, and she's been using that background to apply insights from behavioral science in real world settings. She was also an elected Councillor in Guildford for the Conservative Party. Her co-authors are Laura Osborne, a professional communicator, and Alison Goldsworthy, who helped to create the first depolarization course at Stanford. Together they host the Changed My Mind podcast, in which they interview eminent thinkers about topics on which they've changed their mind. This conversation has two parts. In the first, we talk about Alex's background—primarily being a person with conservative-leaning principles in predominantly liberal environments. This sets the stage for a discussion of the work Alex and her co-authors present in Poles Apart. I also ask her about the limits of what psychology can teach us about effective de-polarization. You can find the link to the paper we discussed here.