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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 07-Feb-10

 


Friday 05-February-10

Vivid self-persuasion

How do you persuade yourself? We often do, and perhaps always do. Others may provide the rationale, but we have to be persuaded, and a certain amount of conversation and self-talk is usually needed.

The problem gets trickier when it comes to art. How do you sell a painting? How do you persuade yourself that an abstract piece is good? The immediate reaction is often quite visceral. You like it or not. But can that be changed?

Researcher Ayumi Yamada asked students to explain out loud their reasons for liking or not two paintings -- one abstract, one representational. The reason for these is that abstract is harder to describe whilst representational art is of real things that can more easily be verbalised.

Later, the subjects who had been asked to praise the paintings were asked which was their favourite. Most preferred the representational art, presumably because it was easier to describe. This was confirmed when those who were asked to criticize both paintings were asked about their favourite: they chose the abstract art, again likely because it was easier to put criticism of the representational art into words.

This has big implications for changing minds -- first, getting people to talk about something increases the likelihood that they will change their beliefs to match. This is the consistency principle and is well-known. What this research adds is the imperative to make it easy for the person to accurately and vividly talk about the subject about which you want to persuade them.

Reference:
Yamada, A. (2009). Appreciating art verbally: Verbalization can make a work of art be both undeservedly loved and unjustly maligned. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 (5), 1140-1143


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