How to talk to someone about conspiracy theories in five easy steps

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How to talk to someone about conspiracy theories in five easy steps

The first instinct of people confronted with conspiracy theorists is often to try to discredit their ideas with factual and credible information. However, direct confrontation rarely works.

At Conspiracy theories are persuasive and often play on people’s feelings and sense of self. Even if debunking conspiracy theories were effective, it’s hard to keep track of how quickly they appear and how widespread they are. A study showed that during 2015 and 2016, the number of Zika virus conspiracy theorists on Twitter surpassed twice as many of those who discredited them.

But research into how to talk to conspiracy believers is starting to pay off. We have developed some conversation tracks to use with people you know or just passing by. But first, if you want to address someone’s conspiracy beliefs, you need to consider root causes.

People are drawn to conspiracy theories in an attempt to satisfy three psychological needs. They want more security, feel in control and maintain a positive image of themselves and their group. In times of crisis, such as the COVID pandemic, these needs are even more frustrated and the people’s desire to make sense of the world it becomes more urgent.

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However, conspiracy beliefs do not seem to satisfy these psychological needs and, in fact, can make things worse for people by increasing their uncertainty and anxiety. Conspiracy theories not only affect people’s moods, but they can also affect your behavior.

For example, people who believe in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories -such as the idea that pharmaceutical companies cover up the dangers of vaccines- reported more negative attitudes towards vaccination and a greater feeling of helplessness one month later. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to those who believe in conspiracies.

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An important tool for reducing conspiracy beliefs is the power of social norms. us overestimates how much others believe in conspiracy theories, which influences the intensity with which they themselves believe in them. A 2021 study found that fight this misconception with information about what people really believe diluted the strength of anti-vaccination conspiracy beliefs among a sample of UK adults.

Inoculation is also a promising route. Give people factual information before exposing her to conspiracy theories can reduce belief in them. This approach can work well in cases like vaccinations, where people may not think much about the issue before it is important to them (for example, when they have to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children).

You can also get vaccinated. At investigations found that the way people think about control may make them less likely to subscribe to conspiracy theories. Goal-oriented people find conspiracy theories less attractive than those focused on protecting what they already have. The authors of this article argue that focusing on shaping the future promotes a sense of control, which reduces conspiracy beliefs.

To help in these difficult discussions with conspiracy believers, we have developed some conversation topics evidence-based.

1. Keep an open mind

AN open attitude Start by asking questions and listening. Thus, the person understands himself better. Listen carefully and avoid defending your own beliefs. Ask questions like these:

When did you start believing in (briefly mention the conspiracy theory)? How did it affect you psychologically? What do these beliefs offer you?

2. Be receptive

He works with what psychologists call conversational responsiveness foster empathy, which can build bridges between the beliefs that each one has. Say things like:

I understand that…; So what you’re saying is…; How does this make you feel?; Tell me more…; I hear you; and thanks for sharing.

3. Critical thinking

states the value of critical thinking.

If the person you are talking to already perceives herself as a critical thinker, redirects that skill to a deeper examination of the conspiracy theory itself. For example:

We both probably agree that asking questions is important. But it is essential that we evaluate all the evidence. We have to weigh the information and check the evidence we agree with, as well as the things we don’t like or bother us.

4. Conspiracy theories are not the norm

Points out that conspiracy theories they are not that common how people might think.

Reframing social norms can help address people’s need to protect a group with which they identify. For example:

It’s much more common than you might think for your neighbors to get vaccinated and protect themselves against COVID-19. People want to help protect their community. It’s about all of us trying to help people with illnesses who don’t have the option of getting vaccinated.

5. Think about what can be controlled

encourage them to focus on the future and inspire them to put their energy into areas of their lives where they experience the most control, like this one:

There are some aspects of our lives that we have no control over, but there are many in which we have full control. Let’s list some examples where we have power and independence that we can focus on.

These conversations can be difficult, but they are crucial. Using an empathetic, understanding and open approach will build trust. Research shows that earning someone’s trust is important to prevent radicalization.

Reassure the person if they feel insecure, make them feel more in control if they are worried or helpless, and help them establish social contacts if they feel isolated.

Originally Posted on The conversation under Creative Commons license. read the Original article.

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