Why you can’t argue with a conspiracy theorist

“Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you have two ideas that conflict with each other. You don’t like the feeling, so you’ll try to get rid of the dissonance. There are two main ways you can do that: change your belief, or deny one of the ideas.”

When forced, people will change their beliefs. In a study, people were forced to defend an opinion that they didn’t believe in. The result was that people tended to change their beliefs to fit the new idea.

The best way to change a belief is to get someone to commit to something very small. When not forced, people dig in – the tendency is to deny the new information instead of changing your belief to fit. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to change someone’s ingrained beliefs, as if uncertain, people will argue harder.

If people are given evidence that their belief is not logical, or tenable, or a good choice (for example, conspiracy theories), this may backfire and make them dig in even harder.

About Stu Dunn

With a background in sales and behavioural science, I enjoy learning more about people, behaviour, psychology - which led into motivation - and more recently - sales again. Having started my own real estate company with my wife, it's time to merge interests.
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