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Inoculation

 

Explanations > Theories > Inoculation

Description | Research | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Like in medicine, this is using a weak dose of a counter-argument to make a person resistant to it.

Inoculation works because it exposes people to arguments, making them think about and rehearse opposing arguments. When they hear the arguments again, even stronger versions, they pay less attention to them, especially if they believe their opposing argument is stronger.

There are three stages to inoculation:

  • Warning: Tell the person that it is about to happen so they are forced to get ready.
  • Weak attack: Attack them, but weakly so they can easily resist.
  • Active defending: The person must actively defend them self (and find it relatively easy to do so).

Example

My child was being verbally abused at school. I play-acted with him the situation. I played the abuser, but with weak and stupid insults. He played himself, laughing them off. When he got to school, he found verbal abuse easy to dismiss.

So what?

Using it

After persuading someone, inoculate them to prevent anyone else later undoing your good work. Tell them about people who will try to persuade them otherwise and help them develop counter-arguments.

Defending

Just because an argument works against something, it does not mean it is valid in other, similar circumstances.

See also

Attitude, Insufficient Punishment, Minimal Justification Principle, Idea Immunization

 

http://www.as.wvu.edu/~sbb/comm221/chapters/inocul.htm

References

Papageorgis and McGuire (1961), McGuire (1964)

 

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