Persuasion in Parallel: How Information Changes Minds about Politics (Chicago Studies in American Politics) (Paperback)
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A bold re-examination of how political attitudes change in response to information.
Many mistakenly believe that it is fruitless to try to persuade those who disagree with them about politics. However, Persuasion in Parallel shows that individuals do, in fact, change their minds in response to information, with partisans on either side of the political aisle updating their views roughly in parallel. This book challenges the dominant view that persuasive information can often backfire because people are supposedly motivated to reason against information they dislike. Drawing on evidence from a series of randomized controlled trials, the book shows that the backfire response is rare to nonexistent. Instead, it shows that most everyone updates in the direction of information, at least a little bit. The political upshot of this work is that the other side is not lost. Even messages we don't like can move us in the right direction.
About the Author
Alexander Coppock is assistant professor of political science at Yale University.
"Motivated reasoning theory argues that when people encounter information with which they disagree, they will backlash against it and become more extreme in their prior positions . . . Coppock posits that people update their positions in ways that align with the direction of the information to which they are exposed . . . Whereas motivated reasoning theory has led to despair over the polarization of American politics, Coppock's data gives hope that information can bridge the political divide. Recommended."
“Overturning decades of conventional wisdom, Coppock compellingly demonstrates that persuasive messages have similar effects for all kinds of people. This finding will set the agenda for the fields of public opinion and political communication.”
— Brendan Nyhan | Dartmouth College
"Persuasion is hard, but information matters—and it matters similarly to every-one. In Persuasion in Parallel, Coppock demonstrates that people’s existing views about the kind of world they want to live in are a central feature of their future views about the kind of world they want to live in, but he also shows that new information is not lost on people. Where you start has a lot to do with where you land, but making sure people get new information, more information, and factual information can move everyone’s thinking in the same direction. Politics may be polarized, but Coppock shows persuasion is not.”
— Lynn Vavreck | University of California, Los Angeles