Science & Reddit Teach You How to Change Minds

In an article for the Washington Post, Ana Swanson reports on Cornell University research that uses the r/ChangeMyView sub-Reddit to unlock some science behind how minds are changed. ChangeMyView is a forum in which posters present an elaborate viewpoint and invite others to challenge that view. In the rare case that someone does actually change someone else’s mind, that person is given a delta symbol (being the Greek letter used to express change in math).

Here are some of the insights highlighted from analyzing this forum:

  • If after four posts and responses you have not changed someone’s mind, it is not going to happen. Give up.
  • Using different words than the other person to articulate your argument is helpful in persuading the person to consider new ideas.
  • Using the article “the” instead of “a” in your argument is statistically more effective, because it implies your argument is more specific. Speaking of specific, make sure to include examples.

Some of these tips, and others in the article, are most practically applied in a written format like email (or of course a forum like Reddit). But it is still useful information, if the right situation presents itself, so file it away in your brain for future use. You can view the article here:

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