Political tolerance, i.e., the willingness to put up with opposing behavior of others, is the oxygen of liberal democracy. It is expected to facilitate fair, peaceful political processes. Unfortunately, tolerance is a core democratic value that is hard to learn. Political scientists have inquired since long the best practices to foster tolerance within political communities. The dominant view is that cross-cutting exposure to other’s experiences and feelings, e.g. through deliberation, increases tolerance. However, recent studies show that deliberation does not lead to more tolerant political behavior per se. Psychological research shows that lovingkindness meditators significantly increase in pro-social attitudes. It thus seems plausible to expect (more) tolerant behavior from lovingkindness meditators. But will this tolerance extend to the complex and multi-leveled reality of politics? Strikingly, political science has not yet investigated this intriguing question. This study explores if lovingkindness meditation positively impacts on political tolerance. An experimental study will investigate if teaching participants lovingkindness meditation for 7 weeks will increase political tolerant behavior. These results will be compared with participants who will engage in political debate for 7 weeks and with an active control group.
Femke Bakker, PhD
Leiden University (The Netherlands)
Femke E. Bakker, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in Political Science at the Institute of Political Science of Leiden University, where she teaches courses in political psychology and research methods. … MORE