Does Disagreement Contribute to More Deliberative Opinion?

Vincent Price*, Joseph N. Cappella, Lilach Nir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

321 Scopus citations


Theorists have argued that discussion and disagreement are essential components of sound public opinion, and indeed that both are necessary for effective democracy. But their putative benefits have not been well tested. Consequently, this article examines whether disagreement in political conversation contributes to opinion quality-specifically, whether it expands one's understanding of others' perspectives. Data are drawn from a survey of the American public (N = 1,684) conducted in February and March 2000. Open-ended survey measures of "argument repertoire" - reasons people can give in support of their own opinions, as well as reasons they can offer to support opposing points of view-are examined in light of numerous explanatory variables, including the frequency of political conversation and exposure to disagreement. Results confirm the hypothesis that exposure to disagreement does indeed contribute to people's ability to generate reasons, and in particular reasons why others might disagree with their own views.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Disagreement
  • Opinion quality
  • Political discussion
  • Public opinion


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