Abstract: Changing minds about politics is difficult but not impossible. One body of theory suggests that people are motivated to reason to conclusions that they prefer, so persuasive information to the contrary will be ineffective or may even backfire.
I drawing on a large set of randomized experiments in which subjects were exposed to persuasive information to evaluation these theoretical predictions. Contrary to motivated reasoning theory, I find no of treatment effects in the "wrong" direction. Instead, I find evidence of persuasion in parallel: individuals who encounter persuasive information update their views in the direction of evidence.
This effect holds for people from all backgrounds. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, men and women, old and young -- everyone appears to update their political beliefs in the direction of information by about the same about. Importantly for communication in an age of polarized politics, the "other side" is not impervious to evidence and can be persuaded, even if only by a small amount.
Supported by: MacMillan Center, Yale University, HMC (The University of Tokyo, Humanities Center)
Organised by: UTCP