From Yes Magazine


Putting two people with diametrically opposed viewpoints in a room together may seem frightening to most, but one research lab has been doing it for nearly 20 years.

The Difficult Conversations Lab was founded in the early 2000s by Peter Coleman, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University. He said the lab was created to study deeply rooted, complicated, and hard-to-solve conflicts. He wanted to understand why conflicts in families, communities, and in the international arena get stuck in a destructive pattern. He based his idea for the lab on other projects like the Gottman Institute’s Love Lab for couples therapy.

Coleman said researchers at the lab measure people’s attitudes on a series of issues through surveys, then find people who are on opposite sides of a particular issue and invite them to the lab for a conversation. They choose currently relevant topics like abortion, free speech, race relations, and politics.


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