Facts (still) Don’t Trump Frames

framesThe body of communications research proving that facts alone do not change people’s minds continues to grow. This recent article from Pacific Standard magazine walks through some of the latest research in this field. When confronted with facts that challenge our positions we are apparently capable of shifting our reliance to “unfalsifiable assertions” in order to hold on to our beliefs. (Wow!)

New research suggests that, if options such as relying on biased sources of information prove insufficient, many of us simply rely more heavily on “unfalsifiable” assertions—ones that cannot be definitely proven or disproven.

While this practice “may contribute to polarization, intractability, and the marginalization of science in the public discourse,” write psychologists Justin Friesen of York University and Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay of Duke University, it could increasingly find favor “in a world where beliefs and ideas are becoming more easily testable by data.”

“When faced with threatening information, both proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage reported that the political issues of same-sex marriage and parenting were less about ‘facts’ and more matters of moral opinion.”

After all, they note, it allows people “to maintain their stated stance” regardless of emerging new information.

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