"As political polarization in America has increased, there has been a lot of discussion about how to bring people with opposing views to the table, in order to have more productive dialogues," says lead researcher Rhia Catapano of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. "Our findings show that self-persuasion can be an effective way to move people from entrenched views, but that perspective taking can actually undermine its effectiveness."
Although policymakers and pundits often refer to perspective taking when they talk about addressing polarization, the scientific evidence for its effectiveness as a self-persuasion strategy is mixed. On the one hand, people might generate more persuasive arguments or relate more to alternative viewpoints after taking someone else's perspective. On the other hand, it's possible that trying to see things from the other side could make people more entrenched in their views, especially when they view alternative perspectives in a competitive light.
Catapano - Colleagues - Perspective - Someone - Opinion
Catapano and colleagues hypothesized that taking the perspective of someone with an opposing opinion may backfire when that person is seen as having very different values.
For their first online experiment, the researchers recruited participants from Reddit with the aim of reaching a large sample of people interested in political issues. The 484 participants completed a survey, in which they reported demographic information and rated their support for universal health care (from 0, strongly against, to 100, strongly support).
Participants - Information - Person - Task - White
The participants then received information about the person they would supposedly be interacting with in the next task: a 22-year-old White male from Ohio. Importantly, the partner's political ideology and attitude toward universal health care were always opposite those of each participant.
Half of the participants were instructed to reflect on their partner's intentions and interests and visualize his life and experiences. And all of the participants generated...
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