Group Opinion Polarization in Conditions of Moral Choice Uncertainty



There are a huge number of phenomena about which people might have stable opposing opinions. In social psychology, this is called group polarization. The most difficult here are the problems of moral choice, which do not have unambiguous solutions and often divide people in a group into two irreconcilable camps. Numerous studies in this direction are being conducted on the basis of the so-called “Kant-Constant paradox”. The presented experiment, according to the authors, confirms the hypothesis that in the process of making a decision in a group discussion, the subjects undergo a restructuring of value judgments not only at the level of consciousness, but also at the unconscious level. The results of the study were explained on the basis of V.M. Allakhverdov’s theory of consciousness, according to which rational judgments and decisions can be carried out not only consciously, but also unconsciously. The study was conducted in the form of an online discussion in 4 experimental groups. In total of 106 people took part in it. A list of specially selected Russian folk proverbs was used as a test material. It was found that after a discussion that requires a public statement of the respondent about his moral choice, there may be a significant shift in the assessments of his attitude to proverbs, both related to the task being performed and not directly related to it, which the participant of the experiment may not realize.

General Information

Keywords: group polarization of opinions, value polarization, moral choice, decision-making, consciousness, unconscious

Journal rubric: Social Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Funding. This work was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), grant № 21- 011-31400 «The phenomenon of value-psychological polarization of the population and the problem of stability-instability of Russian society».

Received: 30.07.2021


For citation: Lebedev A.N. Group Opinion Polarization in Conditions of Moral Choice Uncertainty. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2022. Vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 159–171. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2022150212. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Allahverdov V.M. Sobranie sochinenij: v 7 t. SPb.: Vladimir Dal’, 2022. 574 p. (In Russ.).
  2. Allakhverdov V.M. Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya poznaniya. Kognitivnaya logika soznatel’nogo i bessoznatel’nogo. : Izdatel’stvo Sankt-Peterburgskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 2006. 351 p. (In Russ.).
  3. Allakhverdov V.M., Starodubtsev A.S. Zapominanie protivorechivoi informatsii v svete gipotezy o neosoznavaemom poiske razresheniya protivorechii // Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya. 2020. V. 13. № 1. P. 20—34. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2020130102 (In Russ.).
  4. Apresyan R.G. Moral’naya filosofiya, myslennyi eksperiment i neupravlyaemaya vagonetka // Filosofskii zhurnal. V. 9. № 2. P. 138—144. (In Russ.).
  5. ZHuravlev A.L., YUrevich A.V. Makropsihologiya sovremennogo rossijskogo obshchestva / pod red. L. ZHuravleva, A.V. YUrevicha. M.: Izd-vo «Institut psihologii RAN», 2009. (In Russ.).
  6. Kaneman D., Slovik P., Tverski A. Prinyatie reshenii v neopredelennosti: Pravila i predubezhdeniya. Khar’kov: Izdatel’stvo Institut prikladnoi psikhologii «Gumanitarnyi Tsentr», 2005. 632 p. (In Russ.).
  7. Karpov A.V. Psikhologiya prinyatiya reshenii. Institut psikhologii RAN; Yarosl. gos. un-t. Yaroslavl’, 2003. 240 p. (In Russ.).
  8. Kozeletskii Yu. Psikhologicheskaya teoriya reshenii. M.: Progress, 1979. 504 p. (In Russ.).
  9. Kornilova T.V. Metodologicheskie problemy psikhologii prinyatiya reshenii // Psikhologicheskii zhurnal. № 1. P. 7—17. (In Russ.).
  10. Lebedev A.N. K teorii cennostno-affektivnoj polyarizacii social’nyh grupp // Uchenye zapiski Instituta psihologii Rossijskoj akademii nauk. 2022. V. 2. № 1. P. 2—19. (In Russ.).
  11. Lebedev A.N. Kvazieksperimental’noe issledovanie prinyatiya reshenii v usloviyakh ravnoznachnogo vybora // Eksperimental’naya psikhologiya. 2018. V. 11. № 4. P. 79—93. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2018110407 (In Russ.).
  12. Mekhed G. N. Moral’nyi absolyutizm: obshchaya kharakteristika i sovremennye podkhody // Eticheskaya mysl’. V. 15. P. 27—50. (In Russ.).
  13. Podd’yakov A.N. Dopustimo li solgat’ zloumyshlenniku, chtoby pomeshat’ prestupleniyu: analiz istoricheskoi polemiki // Kul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya. 2011. V. 7. № 1. P. 28—41. (In Russ.).
  14. Edmonds D. Ubili by vy tolstyaka? Zadacha o vagonetke. Chto takoe khorosho i chto takoe plokho? : Izdatel’stvo Instituta Gaidara, 2020. 256 p. (In Russ.).
  15. Effektivnoe prinyatie reshenii. 2-e izd. M.: Al’pina Biznes Buk, 2007. (In Russ.).
  16. Abramowitz A.I., Saunders K.L. Is polarization a myth? Journal of Politics. 2008. V. 70. № 2. P. 542—555. DOI: 10.1017/S0022381608080493
  17. Boxell L., Gentzkow M., Shapiro J.M. Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization. NBER Working Paper. 2020. № w26669. URL: (Accessed 11.09.2021).
  18. Doise W. Individual and social identities in intergroup relations. J. of Soc. Psych. 1988. V. 18. P. 99—111.
  19. Doise W. Social representations in personal identity. Social identity: international perspectives / Ed. by S. Worchel, J.F. Morales, D. Paez, J. Deschamps. Y., 1998. P. 13—25.
  20. Druckman J.N., Klar S., Krupnikov Y., Levendusky M., Ryan J.B. The Political Impact of Affective Polarization: How Partisan Animus Shapes COVID-19 Attitudes. PsyArXiv, 19 Aug. 2020. URL: https:// (Accessed 11.09.2021).
  21. Druckman J.N., Klar S., Krupnikov Y., Levendusky M., Ryan J.B. Affective polarization, local contexts and public opinion in America. Nature Human Behaviour. 2021. V. 5. P. 28—38.
  22. Iyengar S., Lelkes Y., Levendusky M., Malhotra N., Westwood S. The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States. Annual Review of Political Science. 2019. V. 22. № 1. P. 129—146.
  23. Mackie D.M., Smith E.R., Ray D.G. Intergroup emotions and intergroup relations. Personality and Social Psychology Compass. 2008. № 2. Р. 1866—1880.
  24. Milgram S. The individual in a social world: Essays and experiments. New York: Mcgraw-Hill, 1992. 345 p.
  25. Moscovici S., Zavalloni M. The group as a polarizer of attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. V. 12(2). June 1969. P. 125—135.
  26. Myers D., Twenge J. Exploring Social Psychology. 9 Edition. NY.: Mc Draw Hill, 2021.
  27. Plous S. The psychology of judgment and decision making. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993. 320 p.
  28. Raichle M.E. Two views of brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2010. V. 14 (4). 180—190. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.01.008
  29. Raichle M.E. The Brain’s Default Mode Network. Annual Review of Neuroscience. 2015. V. 38. 433— 447. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-071013-014030
  30. Sherif M. Social judgment: assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980. 218 p.
  31. Tajfel H., Turner J. The social identity theory of intergroup behaviour. Psychology of Intergroup Relations. 2nd edn. Eds. S. Worchel, W. Austin. : Nelson-Hall, 1986. P. 7—24.
  32. Van S., Lyn M. Extreme members and group polarization. Social Influence. V. 4(3). 2009. P. 185—199. DOI: 10.1080/15534510802584368
  33. Wagner M. Affective Polarization in Multiparty Systems. Electoral Studies. 2021. V. 69. P. 102—199.

Information About the Authors

Alexander N. Lebedev, Doctor of Psychology, leading researcher of the laboratory of personality, Institute of psychology RAS, Professor, Department of social psychology, Moscow Institute of psychoanalysis, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:


Total HTML views: 472
HTML views in previous month: 51
HTML views in current month: 48

Total PDF downloads: 245
PDF downloads in previous month: 14
PDF downloads in current month: 2