Can People’s Minds Be Changed By Information?
Can people’s minds be changed by information? I’d like to think so—but in my practice of law—where I was (and am) an acknowledged expert in both the law and what happens when one spouse goes off to court and starts a legal battle—I had finally realized that no matter how much I informed people… they persisted in their false beliefs. So I began to try to understand it.
I read two books in particular—and parts of another. From these it became clear that most people—not all thank God—will keep an opinion they are invested in no matter how much proof there is that they are off base.
One such book, describing the new pseudo science of “cognitive bias aka confirmation bias-- is “Mistakes were made (But Not by Me.)” I heard the author speak some years ago, but did not actually read the book until last years during thee holiday slump in work activities. The book is not perfect, (she says “but the soul wants truth” and ignores the implications of that!) but it does present compelling evidence of how and why politicians and such refuse ever admit they were wrong—even when it has become clear to all observers that they were dead wrong.
A much better book, to my thinking, is “Sway-The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.” In it, irrefutable evidence—scientific evidence-- of this quirk of human thinking is presented.
The third book was mention to me on LinkedIn and it sounds a weighty tome, but thanks to Amazon I was able to read parts of it, and the author was speaking of exercises they did where one person tried to change the mind of the other. (The experiment mentioned was one person who hated buttermilk and one who loved it assigned the task of convincing the other…) Naturally each one resorted to facts… and naturally… no one was convinced.
I realized how long I had attempted to change the minds of clients hell-bent on litigating... unsuccessfully. I also realized that the authors’ recommendation—asking questions, rather than bombarding the “convincee” with facts –made total sense. Then I realized I knew this, too… You see, I spent 7 years in the human potential movement successfully convincing people to try something I could not describe to them. (Bombarding them with facts was out of the question.) How? By asking them what they wanted in life and listening! And yes, Virginia—what we did really did provide most of it. And my “convincing” was heart felt—and heart based. Which is why I was so successful at it.
How is it I had forgotten that? (I asked myself—and I had an answer.) Well—two things. The HPM I group I belonged to, the Summit Organization, blew up…and as an attorney I was NOT permitted to use those techniques on clients. (Trust me—I was. We aren’t.)
So now I guess I will have to connect up the dots…. and read the heavy tome. As soon as I backtrack and find out the name.