10-Minute In-Person Chat May Reduce Prejudice

'If you ask the right questions ...'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2016 12:59 PM CDT
10-Minute In-Person Chat May Reduce Prejudice
Minds can be changed.   (Shutterstock)

A new study published in the journal Science suggests that a quick, face-to-face conversation can put a dent in LGBT prejudice. Volunteers who went door to door—aka "deep canvassing," per the Atlantic—"substantially reduced transphobia," say the researchers. "We found that a single, approximately 10-minute conversation with a stranger produced large reductions in prejudice that persisted for at least the three months studied to date," says lead author David Brockman in a press release. And it's all about reaching people through empathy, not wearing them down through arguments or "tricking" them over to your side. "Similar to cognitive behavioral therapy … if you ask the right questions and have [people] think through their own opinions and behaviors, that can help people lead them to change their own minds," Brockman tells ABC News.

The study recruited 56 canvassers to receive training developed by the Los Angeles LGBT Center in CBT-based techniques, then sent them to visit 501 voters in the Miami area. The topic: issues facing transgender people after an anti-discrimination ordinance was passed. The canvassers took 10 minutes to explain the ordinance, ask voters for their take on transgender people, and have the voters recall a time when they themselves were judged for being different, thus encouraging "voters to see how their own experience offered a window into transgender people's experiences." They say 70% of those who opened their doors went through the entire exercise, and three months later, they were more likely to show "positive" feelings toward transgender people than those in a control group. (Read more prejudice stories.)

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