Is Deliberation Neutral? Patterns of Attitude Change During “The Deliberative Polls™”


Though deliberative theory has a bias toward rigorous argument and democratic social relations, it presumes that an ideal discursive process otherwise has a neutral stance with respect to particular ideologies and cultural values. This essay provides a preliminary test of that assumption by examining attitude change across a wide range of Deliberation Polls held across the globe. We analyzed 65 questionnaire statements on which Poll participants significantly changed their views on a wide variety of issues. By coding each of these survey items on various value dimensions, we were able to look for any obvious patterns of attitude change. Despite its small size and the exclusion of items showing no attitude change, this sample showed that Poll respondents tend to move toward more cosmopolitan, egalitarian, and collectivist value orientations. Further analysis showed the strongest value-laden shifts were on empirical statements, with public opinion on such questions shifting moderately toward cosmopolitan and collectivist beliefs. The conclusion considers the implications of these findings for deliberative theory, research, and practice.


sustainability, ideology, deliberative poll, cultural orientation, cosmopolitanism, attitude change

How to Cite

Gastil J. & Bacci C. & Dollinger M., (2010) “Is Deliberation Neutral? Patterns of Attitude Change During “The Deliberative Polls™””, Journal of Public Deliberation 6(2). doi:







John Gastil (University of Washington)
Chiara Bacci (EU Committee of the Regions)

Michael Dollinger (Free University of Berlin)





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