Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Some researchers have analyzed a Reddit thread called, "changemyview," to better understand how one might use the Internet to persuade people to change their minds. Doctoral student Chenhao Tan of Cornell, who published the results, found eight techniques that worked, and speculates that they apply to many other settings. I'll list them without elaboration and give my take afterwards:
- Respond to the initial statement sooner rather than later.
- Respond in groups.
- Have a few back-and-forth exchanges with your opponent, but never go past three or four.
- Link to outside evidence.
- Don't quote the person you're arguing with.
- Don't act too intense -- that scares people off.
- Write a longer response if you're actually trying to change someone's opinion.
- Last but not least, try to base your arguments around points that your opponent didn't initially address.
This is a valuable article for people interested in cultural change to consider, and it caused me to recall an episode in my own past, in which I pretty much acted the way this guidance would call for. (This was over email, so I didn't involve others.) I gained agreement on a big issue in that correspondence, but I conducted myself well partly by accident. Now, thanks to this article, I better understand what I did right, and have a much greater chance of doing so again if a similar opportunity arises in the future.