I summarize an article I published in 2020 and relate it to the current polarized political environment, which is not an extension I made as explicitly in the article.
We often talk of a moral obligation to sympathize with others and “walk a mile in his/her shoes”. We do not often “walk a mile” in the shoes of our neighbors just to be nice, and we can’t even do it for money. In a lab experiment, I put people in an environment where they could earn money for accurately guessing what others did. I found that people tend to transfer their own reference point on to other people, which causes them to make bad predictions.
There is more at the blog. I end with a conclusion that some might say is too optimistic or too generous to the opposing side:
If people of opposing political persuasions spent more time learning each other’s life stories, then we would end up with a less toxic climate.