Cover art for podcast COMPLEXITY


59 EpisodesProduced by Santa Fe Institute, Michael GarfieldWebsite

Far-reaching conversations with a worldwide network of scientists and mathematicians, philosophers and artists developing new frameworks to explain our universe's deepest mysteries. Join host Michael Garfield at the Santa Fe Institute each week to learn about your world and the people who have dedic… read more


Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on Political Polling & Polarization: How We Make Decisions & Identities

Whether you live in the USA or have just been watching the circus from afar, chances are that you agree: “polarization” dominates descriptions of the social landscape. Judging from the news alone, one might think the States have never been so painfully divided…yet nuanced public polls, and new behavioral models, suggest another narrative: the United States is largely moderate, and people have much more in common with each other than they think. There’s no denying our predicament: cognitive biases lead us to “out-group” one another even when we might be allies, and the game of politics drives a two-party system into ever-more-intense division, until something has to give. But the same evidence from social science offers hope, that we might find a way to harness our collective thinking processes for the sake of everyone and row together toward a future big enough to hold our disagreements.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode we talk to SFI External Professor Henrik Olsson and SFI Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow, Omidyar Fellow, and Baird Hurst Scholar Vicky C. Yang about their work on social cognition and political identity. In a conversation that couldn’t be more timely, we ask: How can we leverage an understanding of networks for better political polling and prediction? What are the meaningful differences between one’s values and one’s affiliations? And is the American two-party system working for or against a cohesive republic?

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at Thank you for listening!

Henrik’s Google Scholar Page

Vicky’s Google Scholar Page

Research we discuss in this episode:

Falling Through the Cracks: A Dynamical Model for the Formation of In-Groups and Out-Groups

A Sampling Model of Social Judgment

Harvesting the wisdom of crowds for election predictions using the Bayesian Truth Serum

Why are U.S. Parties So Polarized? A "Satisficing" Dynamical Model

Do two parties represent the US? Clustering analysis of US public ideology survey

Project Page for the SFI-USC Dornslife Polling Research Collaboration

For more on social cognition and collective decision-making, listen to COMPLEXITY episodes 9 with Mirta Galesic and 20 with Albert Kao.

Follow us on social media:

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano

Educational emoji reaction


Interesting emoji reaction


Funny emoji reaction


Agree emoji reaction


Love emoji reaction


Wow emoji reaction




A free podcast app for iPhone and Android

  • User-created playlists and collections
  • Download episodes while on WiFi to listen without using mobile data
  • Stream podcast episodes without waiting for a download
  • Queue episodes to create a personal continuous playlist
RadioPublic on iOS and Android
Or by RSS
RSS feed

Connect with listeners

Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fans

Yes, let's begin connecting
Browser window

Find new listeners

  • A dedicated website for your podcast
  • Web embed players designed to convert visitors to listeners in the RadioPublic apps for iPhone and Android
Clicking mouse cursor

Understand your audience

  • Capture listener activity with affinity scores
  • Measure your promotional campaigns and integrate with Google and Facebook analytics
Graph of increasing value

Engage your fanbase

  • Deliver timely Calls To Action, including email acquistion for your mailing list
  • Share exactly the right moment in an episode via text, email, and social media
Icon of cellphone with money

Make money

  • Tip and transfer funds directly to podcastsers
  • Earn money for qualified plays in the RadioPublic apps with Paid Listens