We begin with what we’re learning from the science of being human.


Minds react to attacks on our beliefs the same way as threats to our physical well-being.

We’ve learned a great deal about what it means to be human in the last three decades. Disciplines like cognitive science, neurobiology, and evolutionary psychology have shed important new light on how our minds work — especially in the social environment.

Understanding the partisan brain is central to the work of Crossing Party Lines. We work to establish trust among participants and avoid “triggers” that get in the way. We offer in-depth courses for members and train our moderators in the very best science. Our conversations are conducted with the latest research in hand, using proven techniques to encourage curiosity rather than defensiveness, aimed at keeping conversations on an even keel. They are safe yet courageous spaces where all voices are heard.

Regular Opportunities to Talk

Participatory politics begins with talking to our fellow citizens.

One of the keys to our success is the regularity of our meetings. Mastering the skills that make civil, respectful conversations possible takes practice.  Our members know that at least once a week they can practice with real people talking about the issues they care about without being judged, criticized, or attacked for not saying things in exactly the right way.

Our regular meetings have an added benefit.  Intergroup contact theory suggests we can reduce the animosity and distrust between groups simply by spending time together.  In a political climate that discourages talking to anyone whose views do not match our own,  Crossing Party Lines offers weekly opportunities to do just that.

"Learning the Crossing Party Lines approach to talking to people with different political views has influenced more than just my approach to talking politics. I find myself applying it any time I need to talk to someone who doesn’t see things my way. It’s really making a difference in my family, my workplace and my entire life!"
CPL Portland Oregon

The Community

The issues we face as a country are far to complex for any one person to fully understand. They are “wicked problems,” and solving them requires that we come together as Americans to look at them from as many angles as possible.

Crossing Party Lines is more than a nonprofit.  We’re a community of people sharing the desire to hear what others think–especially when they don’t see the world as we do–and understand why their views  make sense to them. We connect through love of country, commitment to a common cause, and exploring issues together.

Meeting as a fellow community members broadens our worldview, deepens our connections, and fills us with hope. We stop judging people based on their party affiliations or who they voted for and come to see them for the complex individuals they are.  We grow together, not apart.

"CPL Portland has become a gathering place for people who are intelligent and care deeply about others and the public square. I feel like I have found my people, and they are on both sides of the aisle, both principled and caring. And usually up for a beer."
CPL Volunteer in Portland Oregon

The Training

Crossing Party Lines provides a variety of FREE classes teaching the skills we use to talk across differences.

Why? Because we’ve discovered that behind our success lies a set of new skills and a deeper understanding of why/when conversations go wrong.

Interested in our training? Let us know how we can help you.

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    The Two Types of Depolarization

    Depolarization — the work of reducing toxic polarization — is best understood in terms of the two types of polarization that shape our interactions and perceptions in today’s politically charged climate:

    1. Affective Polarization

    Affective polarization revolves around emotions and feelings. It refers to the emotional divide between individuals or groups with differing political views. It’s about how people feel about others who hold opposing ideologies.

    • Us vs. Them: In affective polarization, people tend to see those on the other side of the political spectrum as part of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emotions like anger, fear, and distrust often come into play.
    • Emotional Reactions: When encountering someone with opposing views, affectively polarized individuals may experience heightened emotions. They might feel threatened, defensive, or even hostile.
    • Echo Chambers: Social media and personalized news feeds can exacerbate affective polarization by reinforcing existing beliefs and isolating individuals from diverse perspectives.

    2. Cognitive Polarization

    Cognitive polarization focuses on thought processes and cognitive biases. It pertains to how people think about the views of others.

    • Discounting Opposing Views: Cognitive polarization leads to a tendency to discount opposing viewpoints without critically evaluating them. People may jump to conclusions, assuming that differing opinions lack validity or logical soundness.
    • Us vs. Them (Again): Just as in affective polarization, cognitive polarization reinforces the “us vs. them” mindset. It hinders open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity.
    • Intellectual Echo Chambers: Cognitive polarization occurs when people surround themselves with like-minded sources, reinforcing their preconceptions and avoiding exposure to alternative perspectives.

    The Interplay Between Affective and Cognitive Polarization

    Affective and cognitive polarization often feed into each other. Emotional reactions (affective) influence how we process information (cognitive), and vice versa.

    Breaking the Cycle: CPL recognizes that depolarization  requires us to address both affective and cognitive aspects. Encouraging empathy and  active listening is not enough.  We must also teach critical thinking and intellectual humility if we are to truly bridge the gap.

    About Bridging

    Bridging refers to the intentional effort to reduce toxic polarization by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication between individuals or groups with differing political views. It aims to build connections and discover our shared humanity, ultimately bridging the gaps that divides people along ideological lines.