Reducing political polarization in Hong Kong: a pilot experiment of deliberation

Fei Shen (Corresponding Author), Wenting Yu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary Hong Kong is riven by serious political and social polarization. Hong Kong's problem does not lie in ideological differences among citizens; rather, the major issue is that people of different political stripes view each other as enemies. In this study, we conducted two experiments to compare the impacts of deliberation and discussion on political depolarization. In study 1, we invited participants of opposing views toward the Article 23 legislation and conducted a 90-min discussion session. The participants were divided into two groups: deliberation and causal discussion. The deliberation group received an information booklet on the issue and had to strictly follow rules of deliberation whereas the causal discussion group had no such stimuli. In study 2, we used video recordings from study 1 and presented the videos to two groups of participants. One group of participants watched the deliberation video and the other group watched the causal discussion video. The main finding of the study is both deliberation and causal discussion had mixed effects on reducing political polarization. After discussion, issue attitude and issue polarization remained largely the same, but people's attitude toward others with opposing views became more favorable and affective polarization was reduced. No systematic differences were found between deliberation and discussion. And watching discussion and deliberation will deliver similar effects but to a lesser extent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-247
Number of pages15
JournalJapanese Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Deliberation
  • experiment
  • polarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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