Germany Talks

September 23, 2019

Deutschland spricht 2019 coincided with an important date for all of Germany: the 30th annivery of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Three decades later, many of the political and social debates have stayed the same, and many have changed. Participants of the 2019 Germany Talks event therefore had a lot to discuss, from taxes to equal opportunities for men and women, and the key question post reunification: does Germany care enough for East-Germans?

Deutschland spricht 2019 was launched by ZEIT Online on August 15 2019 with a cooperation of six other German media partners: Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, der Sächsischen Zeitung, des Weser Kurier, der Berliner Zeitung, Chrismon und In total, approximately 18,000 participants registered to debate with their political opposite on October 30, 2019.

Germany Talks 2019 was also the study of behavioral economist Armin Falk, who conducted scientific research into whether these conversations have a measurable effect on polarisation and empathy in participants. The study concluded that participants were demonstrably more empathetic and less polarised in their views toward people who hold different political opinions from them, and their belief in social cohesion also rose.

...even just a two-hour conversation between people with completely different political views is enough to weaken polarization. The meetings helped dismantle prejudices against those who think differently and, after the conversations, participants considered people with other views on average to be less incompetent, less malicious and less poorly informed.

Read an interview with Armin Falk on ZEIT Online