Seeing the Light

We don’t see the light by being beaten over the head with the lamp.

Diverse in the City™️

When we seek to enlighten or persuade others to see things our way, blunt approaches aren’t the most effective.

Even the most open-minded of us can be pretty tied to our beliefs, unless it’s an area in which we truly haven’t formed an opinion yet. So what happens when someone tries to convince us of another view by assaulting us with information that contradicts our beliefs? Often, it backfires.

🧠 The backfire effect is a cognitive bias that causes us to respond to information that contradicts our views by doubling down on our views. The attempt to convince by showing “proof” to the contrary, backfires.

Not always, of course, as biases are tendencies and there are other factors to consider. But when it does backfire, we might ignore the alleged “proof” or look for more evidence to support our position. This is especially true if the information is presented bluntly.

We are more likely to think differently if we are made to feel differently or just feel comfortable first, making us more receptive to this type of information. Sharing a personal experience, aligning our goals (“we want the same thing”) or finding other common ground to connect on helps stave off the defensiveness, allowing us to take in and consider the new information.

❓How do you approach trying to persuade someone of what you believe to be true?

❓Is this approach different from when you are simply offering someone a different perspective?

Note: Research currently seems unsettled on the effect and extent of a “backfire effect” bias in different contexts.

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