In many countries public opinion is polarized on issues such as immigration, inequality, populism, and trust in institutions. Although for each issue there is an extended scientific literature, there is a pressing need for integration. Are opinions on these issues related and, if so, what is the glue that binds them? Do different groups of people polarize on different issues and/or for different reasons?

Our first objective is to determine how identities and threats combine to generate multiple polarized attitudes. We will identify subpopulations with unique belief systems or threat networks, and investigate how these are related to identities, polarization, and political behavior.

Our second objective is to use experimental research to test causal effects of identities and threats on polarization. We focus on economic inequality, meritocracy, collective narcissism, and collective threats.

Third, democratic innovations such as citizen fora have been developed to overcome polarization. We will test whether using our insights on threats and identity can make such fora more effective.

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