German Lopez writes: In 2016, researchers stumbled on a radical tactic for reducing another person’s bigotry: a frank, brief conversation.
The study, authored by David Broockman at Stanford University and Joshua Kalla at the University of California Berkeley, looked at how simple conversations can help combat anti-transgender attitudes. In the research, people canvassed the homes of more than 500 voters in South Florida. The canvassers, who could be trans or not, asked the voters to simply put themselves in the shoes of trans people — to understand their problems — through a 10-minute, nonconfrontational conversation. The hope was that the brief discussion could lead people to reevaluate their biases.
It worked. The trial found not only that voters’ anti-trans attitudes declined but that they remained lower three months later, showing an enduring result. And those voters’ support for laws that protect trans people from discrimination increased, even when they were presented with counterarguments for such laws.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this research since Election Day. After Donald Trump’s victory last week, it is clear that the prejudiced views of a lot of Americans helped elect to the White House a man who’s repeatedly made racist, offensive statements. Not only did Trump build his campaign largely on fears of immigrants and Muslims, but based on a lot of polls and surveys, he also attracted the voters who reported, by far, the highest levels of racial resentment and other prejudiced views. [Continue reading…]