Polarization and the Psychology of Collectives

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Achieving global sustainability in the face of climate change, pandemics, and other global systemic threats will require collective intelligence and collective action beyond what we are currently experiencing. Increasing polarization within nations and populist trends that undercut international cooperation make the problem even harder. Allegiance within groups is often strengthened because of conflict among groups, leading to a form of polarization termed “affective.” Hope for addressing these global problems will require recognition of the commonality in threats facing all groups collective intelligence that integrates relevant inputs from all sources but fights misinformation and coordinated, cooperative collective action. Elinor Ostrom’s notion of polycentric governance, involving centers of decision-making from the local to the global in a complex interacting framework, may provide a possible pathway to achieve these goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • collective action
  • collective intelligence
  • cooperation
  • coordination
  • deep uncertainty
  • polarization


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