Tricks for Political Persuasion
Truman Chen

21 April 2017

In our age of political polarization, it seems hard to convince anyone of anything that they didn't already believe in. This consistent inability to reach any real mutual understanding can lead some to "agree to disagree," but when it comes to serious matters, like the question of healthcare or whether Syrian refugees should be allowed to enter a nation-state, lives are at stake.

Olga Khazan of The Atlantic explores a possible "trick" to bypass this problem of persuasion. Khazan looks at how certain "moral frames" are more convincing to some people than others. In the case of American politics, Khazan finds that messages "high on patriotism and loyalty," two moral frames, "are more important to conservatives than are traditionally more liberal values, like reciprocity and caring." 

This interesting example of how cultural differences alter how we receive certain moral ideas might have ramifications for more philosophical approaches to morality. When it comes to more familiar and complex ways of approaching morality, such as consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, etc., are we also culturally or psychologiaclly conditioned to find some more appealing than others? If certain ways are more or less convincing, does this reveal a certain political limit to our moral thought? And how should we strategize when it comes to deeply important moral dilemmas? Should we stick to our guns in our own way of thinking about it, or find a way to appeal to alternate ways, even if we aren't convinced of their validity?

Read the full article here:

Also, check out our episode on "The Psychology of Partisan Politics" with psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion.