How To Change People's Minds According To Science

If you had Thanksgiving with a conspiracy theorist who wears more tinfoil on their head than you wrapped around your turkey after dinner, then you probably spent much of the day wishing there was a way to change the minds of people who seem immune to facts and stats. Turns out there is, according to science.

Unfortunately, you can't change people's minds with information alone, no matter how prestigious your sources may be. Research shows that people tend to dismiss data that doesn't conform to their beliefs. In fact, facts tend to make people stick to their beliefs even stronger. And on top of that, people commonly overestimate their knowledge of the world, so our brains are basically hardwired to turn us into blowhards.

But research has found that you can reach a consensus by expressing shared concerns with whomever you're trying to persuade. So if you're talking to someone who believes vaccines cause autism, you could show them multiple studies denying that connection, but you probably won't get anywhere. Or you could talk about the dangerous diseases kids can catch if they're not vaccinated — a tactic proven to make people more open-minded about vaccines because they feel you share their concern for the welfare of their children.

Learn more about the science of persuasion in the clip above.


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