How “deep canvassing” works to change people's minds on issues

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Naw, that could never work.

Let’s try more insults!


Has this approach been tested to see if it works both ways (change a conservative mindset or change a liberal mindset) or has it only been tested to see if it works one way (change a conservative mindset)?


use their morals against them…

This assumes you’re trying to hurt them in a covert way. Urging people to be their better selves is not “against them.” If you’re talking them into voting for the Koch brothers then, yea, that’s against them. But urging somebody to be more peaceful and accepting? You’re helping them - even loving them.


Can’t do that. Lost my ability to listen, if I ever had one. Mind starts to wander, nearly instantly. All I can do is telling stories about myself. Without the listening part, that won’t be enough.

What was that you said?


So all we need to do is send black gay Muslims and their female feminist atheist scientist friends to every house in America…


I think the nature of the approach (building empathy) is that it will help to change someone from a less caring mindset to a more caring mindset. So don’t think liberal/conservative or left/right, even if a lot of the time left/right feels like it’s caring/uncaring. Authoritarian followers of right wing demagogues are mostly very caring people.


I tell people what they want to hear so they’ll go away too.


Unfortunately the Backfire Effect means people don’t really change their minds - even if they may agree or empathize with you on a few specific points.

The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.

The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.


I tried this with an anti-vaxxer I worked with. I asked her what was wrong with vaccinations.
“Well, they cause autism,” she said. I figured that if reality hadn’t broken that disinformation, maybe a more personal appeal would.
“Well, I’m autistic, and I’m doing pretty okay,” I said. At that point I already fixed her computer, advised her not to click on any links from weird emails, and left.

I’m not sure if it changed her mind at all, but I like to think it might have made her think if autism is any worse than dying of measles.


I’m never going to be persuaded to side with people who think I should die, be jailed, continue being subjected to what passes for healthcare in the US, etc.

If someone has another form of conservatism they want to try out on me, they’re welcome to try it out … after they’ve gotten the regular conservatives in the US to buy in. Fair warning, I’ve been a libertarian (American style). I got better.


They chose a funny example in the article:

Me: I just don’t think it’s a good idea to have guns in schools.
Canvasser: Haven’t you ever just really wished you could shoot someone?? Remember high school??
Me: I see your point.

Edit: Just to be clear, intention is dry, sarcastic, dark humor. Sensitive topic.


The history of this approach is pretty interesting. The original proposer appears to have fabricated their results (and LA LGBT seem to have been instrumental in discovering that. But when later (honest) scientists replicated the experiment, they got positive results, so the technique appears to be valid.


Having read the Vox article, it looks to me like the tenacious work of university grad students has managed to uncover clever persuasive techniques heretofore unknown.

Except, of course, to con men, grifters, salesmen, televangelists, and multi-level marketers.

It doesn’t appear they’ve understood them particularly well, but at least their clue bulb is on, even if it is a bit dim. (-:


Definitely con artists use this method (with lies instead of with the truth), but I don’t think it’s just sales or marketing. The idea is to make people care, and then they’ll be willing to think about how their actions affects other people (or in the case of the con, give money to help “someone in need”). If you went with pure sales (“Can I interest you in gay rights?”) you’d get nowhere because sales is about making people think about what’s in it for them.

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caution as always

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The less you demonize someone for their POV the greater odds you have of changing it.


@seanodonnell covered this one a few posts ago. How “deep canvassing” works to change people's minds on issues

The original paper is likely fabricated but there is a version of this that works.


That’s definitely a concern, although a reasonably intelligent canvasser (like anyone else who’s not suffering from autism!) should be able to tell the difference between b/s and honest/considered responses.

Helpful timesaver: No need to come to my place; I’m already with you.

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