Thursday, 17 July 2014

Agreeing with people might be the best way to change their attitudes

In Propaganda for peace? To change attitudes, don't argue — agree, extremely Julia Rosen writes about a study that found a better way to change people's minds might be to show them extreme versions of their beliefs:
What if the best way to change minds isn’t to tell people why they’re wrong, but to tell them why they’re right? Scientists tried this recently and discovered that agreeing with people can be a surprisingly powerful way to shake up strongly held beliefs.

Researchers found that showing people extreme versions of ideas that confirmed — not contradicted — their opinions on a deeply divisive issue actually caused them to reconsider their stance and become more receptive to other points of view. The scientists attribute this to the fact that the new information caused people to see their views as irrational or absurd, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, it doesn't seem to work on all people:
There is also a risk of backfire — some people in the study took the videos at face value, assimilating the extreme messages into their personal beliefs. And, of course, nothing would stop governments or organisations from employing the same technique to promote their own agendas.

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