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I am taking an Edx course called “UQx: Think101x The Science of Everyday Thinking”. Lesson 7 of this course discusses why it is hard to change people’s minds about various things, particularly when it comes to long held beliefs. I thought this is particularly relevant to veganism as we know how frustrating it is to hear the same motivational excuses repeated over and over again as the basis for carnism.
Why it is hard to change people’s minds? The Edx course says that it’s because of the following two things:
1) Source amnesia. We have difficulty remembering why it is we believe in something. Think about this. What makes you think you have access, that you can instantly recall the exact basis for why you believe something?
2) It is hard to reconcile what it is you believed previously with this new data. It’s cognitive difficulty. You can’t replace your former belief in the heat of the moment. It takes some work and time to put new wealth of evidence.
Evidence alone is not enough to get people to change their minds. We need evidence and a good story to show people what they can change their minds to. The course suggests the following 6 leads for prompting opinion change.
6 Leads of Opinion Change
1) Ask yourself “what do you really believe anyway?”
2) How well based is the opinion that you already hold?
3) How good is the evidence for changing your opinion? Is it based on experiments or appropriate research?
4) Does the evidence really contradict what you already believe?
5) If the answer to question 4) is “no”, then what would be enough evidence to contradict what you already believe?
6) Is it worth finding out about? Why or why not? What is the cost of changing your belief?