I recently gave a talk on how to have productive conversations about controversial scientific topics (and politics). I broke it down into a five step process:
1) Leave
2) Listen
3) Relate
4) Reframe
5) Repeat

#scicomm #scicommjc
1) Leave your bubble

So often we talk to people who think just like us! This can bias our perceptions of the outgroup. And it can limit our audience. So when we want to do #scicomm, we need to be mindful of who is in our audience. Are we reaching new people?
The types of connections matter we seek out matter as well! Superficial exposure with the outgroup (such as following a politician on Twitter) can increase polarization! (Bail et al 2018) #scicommjc
But developing meaningful social connections with those holding diverse viewpoints can reduce polarized beliefs (Facciani and Brashears 2019) #scicommjc
Step 2) Listen with compassion

When we interact with people with different viewpoints, we should seek to understand and resist the urge to judge. The key here is avoiding those defensive biases that occur when people feel attacked. #scicommjc
Identities provide both community and a sense of meaning (Burke and Stets 2009). So we need to remember that challenging someone's worldview can often feel like a personal attack!
Step 3) Relate to them

Lots of social psych research shows that bonding over a common ingroup identity can be helpful! (Gaertner et al 2011)
Also, people are more receptive to information from ingroup members (Wenzel et al 2008) and ideologically sympathetic sources (Berinsky 2015)

For example, focusing on common American identity can reduce political bias (Riek et al 2010)
#scicomm #scicommjc
@TheCosmicRey does a lot of great work discussing the importance of empathy when connecting with people who hold different viewpoints. Empathy is key because emotions are key!
@KHayhoe also does a lot of great #scicomm work discussing climate change! She discusses how she can connect with other Christians as well and use that shared identity to talk about science.
Step 4) Reframe the conversation

We already talked about reframing in #scicommjc tonight, but I have a few more thoughts!
There is some interesting work that finds how people are more receptive to arguments when they are framed in a way that applies to their values.
Conservatives support pro-environmental legislation more when it is framed in terms purity than harm (Feinberg and Willer 2013)

Liberals support military spending more when framed in terms of how it can help economically disadvantaged people (Feinberg and Willer 2015)
So the takeaway here is to know your audience! What do they care about? Why is this relevant to them? #scicomm #scicommjc
Also, asking for detailed explanations of public policies can decrease polarization as well (Fernbach et al 2013)

Ask things like:
How does this work?
How confident are they about it?
Finally, giving an alternate explanation is more effective than simply refuting an unsupported claim (Nyhan and Reifler 2015).

Don’t leave them hanging!

#scicomm #scicommjc
Step 5) Repeat

A single conversation is unlikely to change someone’s mind.
Effective #scicomm takes time and energy!
All of these steps here are interconnected and they are important to be aware of when we are doing #scicomm. I hope this helps!

You can follow @MatthewFacciani.
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