Is the inability to have civil conversations with others who hold differing views a global phenomenon?

The purpose of The Dialogue Project Research Report is to determine whether the dialogue divide, or the inability for people to have civil conversations with others who disagree with them, is a global phenomenon.

With the help of Morning Consult, we conducted a global survey of 5,000 adults in July 2020 in five countries: Brazil, Germany, India, the U.K., and the U.S.

The Dialogue Project Research Report dives into the results of the survey. We investigated the severity of the problem, the topics that are most difficult for people to address in conversations, how comfortable people are in having those conversations, the sources responsible for the difficulty in finding common ground, and how well people believe they are actually doing to bridge the gap. We also investigated whether more current events, such as COVID-19 and the protests following the murder of George Floyd, had an impact of people’s ability to close the dialogue divide. Finally, respondents identified and rated solutions to help close the gap and increase our ability to have more civil conversations.

Some Key Findings Include:

A bad situation is getting worse

By a nearly 2:1 margin, Americans said it is now more difficult to have respectful dialogue with those who hold differing views on COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.

That’s worse than all the other countries surveyed: the UK, Germany, Brazil and India.

This is why we talk about the weather

Across countries, politics (68%), race (64%), and sexual orientation (64%) are the three hardest subjects to have constructive conversations about with people who hold differing views. The most difficult issues for people to find common ground in the U.S. were politics (76%), race/ethnicity (71%), and gun laws (70%).

We know what needs to be done, we just need to do it

Will people engage and listen? 82% said people should be more respectful when talking with those with different views, but only 50% said they should spend more time doing so. And only one-quarter reported that they actually often do.

Solving this won’t be easy

What do we do to solve this problem?

  • Elect leaders who inspire people to be more civil (72% overall and 73% in the U.S.)
  • Reform the news to emphasize more fair and balanced coverage (71% overall and 67% in the U.S.)
  • Reform elections by improving transparency in the campaign reporting process (70% overall and 67% in the U.S.)

Culture plays a role

American women think polarization is a bigger problem than American men by a meaningful margin: 63% vs. 51%

The US is considerably more similar to Brazil and India than it is to the UK and Germany  How many think it’s a “major problem?” 64% in Brazil, 57% in the US, 49% in India 28% in the UK and 26% in Germany.

To request a copy of the crosstabs and topline results, please contact, Dr. Tina McCorkindale, primary researcher, and President and CEO at the Institute for Public Relations at