How to reach closed-minded usually far right wing students with science.
Galperti, Simone. 2019.”Persuasion: The Art of Changing Worldviews.” American Economic Review 109(3):996-1031
Abstract: Persuaders often face the task of changing their listeners’ worldview, which may involve conveying evidence that disconfirms that view. It has been shown, however, that people are often reluctant to change their worldviews. These aspects of persuasion cannot be captured in the standard Bayesian framework. The paper identifies the constraints, opportunities, and trade-offs of persuading people to change worldview. It finds necessary and sufficient conditions under which it is optimal for persuaders to do so. It also shows when and how they conceal disconfirming evidence and take advantage of their listener’s existing worldview.
Not a ton of practical information there.
The things I’ve seen recommended have been:
1. Not disagreeing, but asking questions until the person starts to question it themselves. This is a little tougher than it used to be because Fox News has glib answers to the surface questions that feel right because they’ve been repeated so many times, but continuing to probe deeper until the contradictions come out helps. I’m not finding a link on this, but I have seen it talked about as something that has been tested.
2. A three pronged approach:
An approach that starts by coming out with common ground . You validate things they believe, make them feel listened to and like you have something in common. Then you give alternatives– I notice in the link here the examples they give start with questions. Only then do you provide proof. In pre-Trump days when I taught Public Finance, I was able to get Libertarians to understand that feeding children is an investment in smaller government later. (Nowadays the Libertarians I get are Libertarian In Name Only– and it’s really hard to reason with Social Conservatives who hate women and minorities.)
3. A third thing that I’ve seen on forums but have not actually seen anybody talk about scientifically (probably because it’s a different part of psychology) is not focusing on the hard-core people at all, but focusing on the folks that are easily swayed. This is likely to alienate the core close-minded people, but may “save” more people. I don’t think I would do this with college students though because they’re so young and are probably more reachable than the main nutcases on the closed anti-vaxxer sub-forums of mommy boards.
4. Convince people who believe things because they’re conspiracy theorists that there’s a conspiracy to get them to believe these horrible things. That turns out to not be that hard to do because IT IS TRUE (see: Russian bots). The last part of this article talks about that technique in conjunction with anti-vaxxers and I’ve seen anecdotal evidence from doctors that it often works with their more paranoid patients.
Grumpy Nation, have you ever been able to convince a close-minded person of anything?