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Small Differences that Matter: The Impact of Discussion Modalities on Deliberative Outcomes

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Baccaro Lucio, Bächtiger André, Deville Marion,
Project Deliberative Reforms in the Political System
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal British Journal of Political Science
Volume (Issue) 46(3)
Page(s) 551 - 566
Title of proceedings British Journal of Political Science
DOI 10.1017/s0007123414000167


An experiment on the extension of the political rights of foreigners in the Swiss city of Geneva used three different procedural ways to structure deliberation: participants take positions at the outset, do not take positions, and reflect first. Most opinion change occurred when participants did not have to take a position at the outset. However, no learning effects were recorded, the deliberative quality was poor and group influence had the greatest impact. When participants had to take a position at the outset, opinion change and group influence were least, but there was significant learning, and the deliberative quality was better. These results indicate a potential trade-off between opinion change – which many scholars equate with deliberative success – and good procedural deliberative quality.