Does deliberation distort its participants’ policy attitudes? It is widely believed to make them more “authentic,” aligning them more closely with underlying values and interests. Yet there have also been claims that deliberation routinely and strongly “homogenizes” attitudes (decreasing their variance), “polarizes” them (moving their mean further out from the midpoint), or leads to “domination” by the socially advantaged (moving the overall mean attitude toward theirs). If so, the deliberation-induced attitude change may be stemming more from social dynamics than the merits of the arguments and may thus be making the participants’ attitudes less authentic. This paper considers these claims both theoretically and empirically, noting the conditioning role of deliberative design. We explore the nature and normative valence of homogenization, polarization, and domination and examine their frequency and strength across 2,601 group-issue pairs in 21 Deliberative Polls. The results show no routine or pronounced homogenization, polarization, or domination.

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