A Psychological Analysis of Fractured Political Discourse

This poster encapsulates the findings of my first period of research.

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Jasmine Onstad

Student, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

I am a postgraduate philosophy student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. I love doing research in philosophy because I am constantly expanding my knowledge and perspective in new and surprising ways. I am from London but grew up around the world in Amsterdam, Nairobi and Johannesburg. My research brings together psychology, philosophy and politics. I aim for my work to be as interdisciplinary as possible, encompassing theoretical explorations as well as empirical research. In my first period of Laidlaw research, I reviewed the psychological literature on cognitive biases and developped a model for understanding the internal and environmental factors which lead to polarization. In my second research period, I applied this knowledge directly to politics, focusing on the role of flawed individuals in a democracy. With the rise of populism and the current breakdown of democratic processes globally, it is not a stretch to say that many modern democracies are failing. How much does this have to do with the irrational tendencies of individuals and how much is down to failures in the democratic institutions themselves? My research applies the findings of cognitive bias research to the political sphere and uses it as a jumping-off point to explore the ways that democracy must be adapted to combat new challenges posed by technology and our evolving understanding of human nature.