How (Not) to Change Someone's Mind
In this day and age, it can be hard — in some cases, seemingly impossible — to change someone else's mind when debating a topic. When all else fails, there are two tactics that really seem to work. One is encouraging people to engage in perspective taking — i.e., putting themselves in someone else's shoes. Another is asking people to come up with reasons to support something they oppose. Psychologists have dubbed this second strategy "counter-attitudinal argument generation." In a new research paper, Kellogg marketing professor Derek Rucker and co-authors Rhia Catapano and Zakary Tormala of Stanford University posed the question: "What would happen if you combined the two tactics ... by asking people to generate arguments from someone else's point of view?" Their findings were clear. Combining perspective-taking and argument generation almost always backfires.
“What this study shows is that some of our intuitions — as well as what we might infer from prior research — about what might be most effective at persuading others might be wrong,” Rucker says. As it turns out, when a person is asked to adopt someone else's viewpoint and generate arguments from it, the process only serves to highlight differences in values between the two individuals that are debating. Instead of being swayed by the arguments one has developed, the research team found that the person feels distant from them, thus less persuaded. Rucker concluded, "This paper says you can't just think about individual persuasion strategies. You have to think about how they might interact with each other."
Kellogg Insight (03/01/19) Allen, Susie
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