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Zachary Elwood

Zachary Elwood works on reducing toxic political polarization. He’s the author of Defusing American Anger (written for all Americans) and How Contempt Destroys Democracy (written for a liberal/anti-Trump audience). He's the host of the psychology podcast People Who Read People.


“Elwood is one of the wisest voices on the topic of toxic polarization. His writing is clear, thoughtful, and well-researched... America needs its citizens to listen to Zach.”
   – Daniel F. Stone, author of Undue Hate

“He encourages us to see we're caught in a feedback loop with ‘the other side’… I felt saner and less afraid for the future after reading [his books]. I also feel like I might be better able to engage with [the other side] in constructive ways.” 

    – Brendan Bartholomew (read full review)

“Zach and I lean opposite ways politically, but he has a way of engaging without anyone feeling judged for their stances... He makes a compelling case that our contempt and distorted views are not only a great threat but a problem we can actually solve." 

    – Jefferson Shupe, author of The Bathwater Brigade

America is deeply divided

We don't just disagree on issues; we increasingly view our political adversaries as immoral, deluded, and dangerous. And our fear and contempt affect our stances on issues, making us more hardened in our views and less willing to compromise. 

There’s a good chance our problems will get worse before they get better. To avoid worst-case outcomes of chaos and dysfunction where all Americans lose, we need more people — from politicians to reporters to everyday citizens — to see the nature of our divides more clearly. 

Learn more about my books: 

"When we treat others with anger and disgust, we drive them further away from our reality; we aid them in building a narrative where we are the villains."
- from How Contempt Destroys Democracy

"Culture wars are different than real wars: the more you attack the other side, the more you strengthen it."
- Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind

Why now

You'll appreciate my work if...

You'll enjoy my work if any of these things are true for you:

  • You think political contempt and anger have become a serious problem in America and you want to help. 

  • You're confused why people talk about "polarization" being a problem when you think the problem is entirely one-sided.

  • You want to understand how you can work for what you believe in without contributing to toxicity and contempt. 

  • You want to understand why the "other side" believes the seemingly strange things they believe.

  • You want to have less angry, more productive conversations with people who are politically different from you.

  • You're a political activist and want to be able to make more persuasive arguments to your opponents.

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Learn more about my books: 

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ABoUT the author

Zachary Elwood

I'm Zachary Elwood. I'm the host of the psychology-focused podcast People Who Read People. For my podcast, I've interviewed many people on topics related to our us-versus-them polarization and the psychology underlying our divides (see my politics-related episodes). I also have a depolarization-aimed newsletter: sign up to that to get updates about my work and this cause.

My research into deceptive online activity has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and more. 

Have a media inquiry or other question or comment? Please reach out.

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Thank you.

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