From Science Daily:
Originally Posted by Science DailyApr. 29, 2013 — Having to explain how a political policy works leads people to express less extreme attitudes toward the policy, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The research suggests that people may hold extreme policy positions because they are under an illusion of understanding -- attempting to explain the nuts and bolts of how a policy works forces them to acknowledge that they don't know as much about the policy as they initially thought.
Importantly, the results affected people along the whole political spectrum, from self-identified Democrats to Republicans to Independents.
According to the researchers, these findings shed light on a psychological process that may help people to open the lines of communication in the context of a heated debate or negotiation.
"This research is important because political polarization is hard to combat," says Fernbach. "There are many psychological processes that act to create greater extremism and polarization, but this is a rare case where asking people to attempt to explain makes them back off their extreme positions."