> Skip to content
  • Published: 14 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781847942968
  • Imprint: Random House Business
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $35.00

Poles Apart

Why People Turn Against Each Other, and How to Bring Them Together




A groundbreaking work on why people become so divided - and how they can brought back together.

We humans are social animals, naturally driven to form close-knit groups. All too often, though, these groups become partisan. They start to compete with one another. They become mutually hostile. Why does this happen? And what can be done to counter the tendency

In Poles Apart, an expert on polarisation, a behavioural scientist and a professional communicator explain why we are so prone to be drawn into rival, often deeply antagonistic factions. They explore the shaping force of our genetic make-up on our fundamental views and the nature of the influences that family, friends and peers exert. They pinpoint the economic and political triggers that tip people from healthy disagreement to dangerous hostility, and the part played by social media in spreading entrenched opinions. And they help us to understand why outlooks that can seem so bizarre and extreme to us seem so eminently sensible to those who hold them.

Above all, by meticulously showing how and why polarisation affects every part of our lives - influencing everything from our friendship circles to our approach to health issues - they show what practical and effective steps we can all take to narrow divisions, build respect for others, and create a greater degree of common understanding.

  • Published: 14 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781847942968
  • Imprint: Random House Business
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $35.00

About the authors

Ali Goldsworthy

Ali Goldsworthy has spent over 20 years active in politics and campaigning. A former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats, she led the team that built the fastest growing campaigning organisation in the UK. In 2017 she was a Sloan Fellow at Stanford, creating its first depolarisation course and claiming numerous awards for her work. Ali has written for the Telegraph, Independent, New Statesman and Financial Times.

Laura Osborne

Laura Osborne is a professional communicator and change maker, with a background in public affairs and government communications. Currently Communications Director and a spokesperson at London First, the voice of London’s largest businesses, she was the UK Consumer Association’s first Head of Corporate Affairs, working with some of the UK’s biggest corporates to directly intervene to improve the banking, energy and telecoms markets for consumers.

Alex Chesterfield

Alex Chesterfield is a behavioural scientist with a Masters in Cognitive & Decision Science. She currently works in financial services, leading a team of psychologists to encourage consumers to make better decisions and drive ethical business cultures. For four years, she was an elected Councillor in Guildford for the Conservative Party and has personally experienced the effects of affective polarisation, both in and out of the workplace.

Praise for Poles Apart

A fascinating and thought-provoking analysis of the divisions between us, how we bridge them, how we reshape the world - and ourselves too. Essential reading.

Cathy Newman, Channel 4 News

Asks the best question I have ever heard. And, critically, offers solutions. A must read.

Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy UK, and author of Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense

Poles Apart is an extraordinary achievement: fresh, deeply authoritative, and entertaining on every page. Everyone talks about polarisation, but no one does it like Goldsworthy, Osborne, and Chesterfield. You'll finish this book wiser, kinder, and more hopeful than when you started it.

Jamie Susskind, author of Future Politics

In Poles Apart, the authors give us a comprehensive review of the psychology of groupishness and polarisation. It's a fascinating read, which will help anyone who wants to step out of the polarisation cycle and become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem that is now damaging the world's leading democracies.

Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind and The Happiness Hypothesis

All my life I have been an impassioned advocate of technology. I believed it could connect the whole world, which it has largely done. What I and many others failed to see, was how those connections would then be used to divide and polarise us - for commercial and political gain. This is endangering our social institutions and democracy on which our dreams were based. It turns our own lives and sometimes, families, to the poles - into warzones. This is a pivotal moment for this book to be written, read and understood.

Peter Gabriel, musician

A trenchant diagnosis of the causes and consequences of the polarisation plaguing our societies - and a practical road map for remedies. Highly recommended.

David Broockman, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley

It's a great book and the spirit of it is so much nicer than all those you are totally wrong books.

Matt Chorley, The Times

Related titles