Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


In the United States today, liberal and conservative citizens are becoming increasingly polarized in their attitudes of hostility toward one another. This has resulted in a socio-political climate in which liberals and conservatives routinely demonize each other, and political differences are unhelpfully framed as matters of good versus evil. Open and honest dialogue between liberals and conservatives has the potential to improve this situation, but a myriad of cultural, psychological, and societal challenges create significant barriers to liberal-conservative dialogue. This paper explores these barriers in detail through a synthesis of research in moral psychology, cognitive psychology, and sociology. It explains how a fundamental awareness of them can improve liberal-conservative relations and enable liberal-conservative dialogue. Combining research on current liberal-conservative dialogue initiatives with interviews of three dialogue advocates/practitioners, this paper demonstrates how and why liberal-conservative is a promising remedy for addressing problems in our often toxic and emotionally painful socio-political climate.


Critical and Cultural Studies | International and Intercultural Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Peace and Conflict Studies