Changing Minds

I just listened to a fascinating edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Host Ira Glass interviewed Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, author of the new book Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds. (Audio from this show should be available after 6pm eastern time.)

Gardner discussed how people form deep-seated assumptions and opinions, and listed seven “levers,” or rhetorical techniques, that tend to encourage people to shift their thinking or change their minds. These are useful tools for anyone who creates or edits any kind of content to keep in mind:

  1. Reason (logical arguments)
  2. Research (statistics, etc.)
  3. Resonance (a rather intangible level; when the points you make “feel right” to the people you are addressing)
  4. Representational rediscriptions (making the same point in different ways – words, imagery, actions, etc.)
  5. Resources and rewards (positive reinforcement)
  6. Real-world events (drawing lessons from current events that are predominating the popular consciousness, such as the recent train bombings in Madrid)
  7. Resistances (actually, this involves identifying and directly countering specific resistances that people have developed toward new ideas)

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