How to change someone’s (political) views.

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Joey: All right, Rach. The big question is, “does he like you?” All right? Because if he doesn’t like you, this is all a moo point. 
Rachel: Huh. A moo point? 
Joey: Yeah, it’s like a cow’s opinion. It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo. 

The above scene is from the popular sitcom “Friends”. Cows’ opinions might not matter, but ours surely do, right? (Do not burst my bubble, I choose to believe so.)

What prompted me to write a post about opinions? Just yesterday, Business Insider posted an article entitled: “A Yale psychologist’s simple thought experiment temporarily turned conservatives into liberals”. The article greatly simplifies how to change other people’s political views; how to turn a liberal into a conservative and how to turn a conservative into a liberal. It argues that a simple trick can fix all your debate problems. Well, at least temporarily. Hmm… how long does that temporary state last? *imagines a Pinky and The Brain world domination scenario*

How to turn a liberal into a conservative?

Supposedly, to turn a liberal into a more conservative constituent, one should feed him/ her scary thoughts, making them fear for their lives. Is that not natural? We all have survival instincts, which kick in when our lives are in danger. In the end, when it counts, we usually prefer to live rather than die. (This excludes suicide scenarios. However, many do walk away from the ledge.) The article does admit that conservatives have been more difficult to sway in social experiments. Until now…

How to turn a conservative into a liberal?

The study involved 145 people (which is statistically significant, but is not a huge study source), and the results showed that conservatives can be swayed into thinking like more of a liberal on social issues (no change on economic views). What made them change? They were told to imagine they had superpowers and were physically invulnerable (bullets would not harm then, falling off a cliff would not either, fire would not burn them, etc.). Then, they were asked if they thought there was social inequality and if they wanted to make some social changes. Being primed to think they were superheros, people expressed more relaxed opinions on social issues, leaning more towards the natural opinions of liberals. In contrast, liberals views did not change after this “superhero” scenario. The conclusion of the study was that if you just make people feel safe, they will all become liberals. At least on social issues. At least temporarily.

I could not believe how silly this article was. First of all, IT WAS PRETEND! Of course my views would change if I was transported into my idyllic, imaginary world. Guess what!?! That is not reality. You are not going to wake up tomorrow with superpowers! (If you do, please message me, so I can revel in your glory.) The world will not magically fix itself. Also, it was not about making people feel safer, but about being able to do anything. It made them feel invincible. Made them feel like god. And if they could do anything, why would they care about mundane issues of other “normal” people? If they had the upper hand, they would care less about what others did. Greedy? Maybe. But that is human nature.

How easy is it to change YOUR opinions?

Below is my own opinion building history, which also explains how I acquire them.

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As you can see from my other blog posts, I am a rather opinionated person. We all have certain views on various topics. Whether these are correct or not is a whole other topic. During my early teenage years, when I consciously started building my viewpoints, I believed that changing one’s opinions either proved those opinions were wrong in the first place, or that the person who changed them was simply like a flag in the wind – dancing in whichever direction the wind was blowing in at that time. My opinions were firm and no one could change them. It felt like a way for me to keep my integrity intact. At that time, my opinions were limited to the micro-environment of a teenager’s world (music, opposite sex, parties, classes, snacks, TV, fashion, etc.).

In high-school, my religious and political views started getting challenged, and I discovered the art of research outside of my own experiences. Not that your personal experience is not important, but being able to cite vital research proving your arguments and disproving the counterarguments can prove useful. Unfortunately, actual exchanges of arguments were still too sparse, as not many people were interested in serious conversations. It was during my college years that I met a lot of other passionate people. We did not always agree, but we were always up for a debate. Yes, deep down everyone hoped to change other people’s minds (which actually did happen every now and then), but the main goal was to spark a brainstorm. It provided a platform to all those ideas you had in your head and were now able to test out in the open to see how they held up to scrutiny. We did this in class for grades, and then at the dorms for fun. Even at parties. Any time and any place were good. We did not call each other names. We did not get offended. Worst case scenario – we disagreed and returned to a drinking game. The point was to learn to argue anything and everything, because there are pros and cons for anything and everything. We would only stop when the time ran out, and the professor had to evaluate us. I now believed that opinions could change. It might be caused by someone presenting some unknown to you facts, your actual life experiences, or more research, or all of the above. In fact, I now have more respect for those who change their minds based on proof, than those who choose to stick to their opinions even when they are proven wrong. At this point, my opinions are related to my micro-environment, but also the macro-environment.

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A great classic that I listened to during the writing of this post was “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield – “…The only one who could ever reach me/// Was the son of a preacher man…” Who is the one that reaches YOU?

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3 thoughts on “How to change someone’s (political) views.

Add yours

  1. You got fairly close to the truth. Everyone is a liberal in an ideal world. Why wouldn’t they, if everything is already perfect as it is? But this world is far from ideal, and that’s where the trademark stupidity of liberals stands out. They live a fantasy world of their own making that nothing has to do with reality. They typically care to go no further than seeking the feel-good feeling that comes with entertaining those uplifting, if unrealistic, thoughts. It’s a cheap way of facing life, overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading. “They live in a fantasy world (…) seeking the feel-good feeling.” Indeed. It seems that in today’s world feelings are the most important things in the world. As long as they “feel” good, the reality does not matter.

      Liked by 1 person

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Cathleen Townsend

Faerie Tales and Fantasy Worlds

Mark-Huntley-James

writing science-fiction and fantasy since tomorrow

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