Ever wanted to know one of the best ways to change someone’s mind?
Blaise Pascal is one of the most renowned minds from the 17th-century. He’s known as a philosopher but also as a psychologist. One of his most important works is a decision theory, where Pascal explained that faith in God presents pragmatic decision.
Also, it seems Pascal was the first to discover the best way to make people change their minds, long ago before some other psychologists studied persuasion:
‘When we wish to correct with advantage and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally, he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true.’
Pascal also added:
‘People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.’
In short, Pascal says that before we disagree with someone, it is better to refer to the facts that we consider to be right. In order to make people change their minds, the best way is to show them the antithesis to their own belief. Arthur Markman, a distinguished psychology professor from the Austin’s University of Texas, claims both of these points of view are true:
One of the first things you have to do to give someone permission to change their mind is to lower their defenses and prevent them from digging their heels into the position they already staked out. If I immediately start to tell you all the ways in which you’re wrong, there’s no incentive for you to co-operate. But if I start by saying, ‘Ah yeah, you made a couple of really good points here, I think these are important issues,’ now you’re giving the other party a reason to want to co-operate as part of the exchange. And that gives you a chance to give voice your own concerns about their position in a way that allows co-operation.
Markman also finds Pascal’s theory of the second persuasive suggestion is true: “If I have an idea myself, I feel I can claim ownership over that idea, as opposed to having to take your idea, which means I have to explicitly say, ‘I’m going to defer to you as the authority on this.’ Not everybody wants to do that,” he adds.
In other words, if it wasn’t enough that Pascal is recognized as a mathematician, physicist, and philosopher, it seems he was also an early psychologist.
Share this old trick by pressing the button below!