latitudes of acceptance

By September 13, 2016Uncategorized

Wikipedia = NONE

(though discussed a bit here:



A Conversation with Matthew D. Lieberman


“I’ll tell you about my new favorite idea, which like all new favorite ideas, is really an old idea. This one, from the 1960s, was used only in a couple of studies. It’s called ‘latitude of acceptance’. If I want to persuade you, what I need to do is pitch my arguments so that they’re in the range of a bubble around your current belief; it’s not too far from your current belief, but it’s within this bubble. If your belief is that you’re really, really anti-guns, let’s say, and I want to move you a bit, if I come along and say, ‘here’s the pro-gun position,’ you’re actually going to move further away. Okay? It’s outside the bubble of things that I can consider as reasonable.

“We all have these latitudes around our beliefs, our values, our attitudes, which teams are ok to root for, and so on, and these bubbles move. They flex. When you’re drunk, or when you’ve had a good meal, or when you’re with people you care about versus strangers, these bubbles flex and move in different ways. Getting two groups to work together is about trying to get them to a place where their bubbles overlap, not their ideas, not their beliefs, but the bubbles that surround their ideas. Once you do that, you don’t try to get them to go to the other position, you try to get them to see there’s some common ground that you don’t share, but that you think would not be a crazy position to hold.

There’s the old Carlin bit about when you drive on the road: anyone going faster than me is a maniac and anyone going slower than me is a jerk. That that’s the way we live our lives. We’re always going the right speed, and everybody else is missing the boat. We don’t take into account that I’m going fast today because I’ve got to get to the hospital, or I’m going slow today because I know I had something to drink, and I shouldn’t have, so I’m going to drive real slow. We don’t take those things into account. We just think whatever I’m doing is the right thing, and we have to recognize there’s this space around those, and if we can find that overlap we can get some movement. And so that’s not a nudge idea, per se. It’s really about finding when people are in a mental space where they’re more open to other ideas, and what is often going on there is you’re trying on identities.

William James said long ago that we have as many identities as people that we know, and probably more than that. We are different with different people. I’m different with my son than I am with you. We have these different identities that we try on, and they surround us. With some friends I can be more of a centrist, and with other friends I might be more of a liberal, depending on what feels like it would work in that moment, and they can all be authentic positions that I really believe at different points in time. I’m really interested in looking at that as a mechanism of persuasion when it comes to regular old persuasion, when it comes to education, when it comes to public health, and when it comes to international issues as well. It’s finding that latitude of acceptance and finding out how to use it successfully.”

NOTES: he studies “the social brain”, research goes all over the place…social thinking machinery, empathy…also how messages spread, persuasion, identity, social virality…context of increasing education, social learning behaviors…different tribes in psychology field, replication crisis in social psych…embodied cognition…blogging/sharing…sleep and dreams, improving training; relativity of beliefs, overlapping mental space, trying on multiple identities

from social judgment theory:

“Given a range of possible positions about given subject, people may have a range of opinions, but will have an anchor position. As this is often tied to people’s sense of identity, it is seldom possible to change it.

The latitude of acceptance are those positions which are acceptable. The latitude of non-commitment are those positions which are neither accepted nor rejected. The latitude of rejection are positions which will be actively opposed.

The five principles of Social Judgment Theory are:

1. We have categories of judgment by which we evaluate persuasive arguments.

2. When we receive persuasive information, we use our categories of judgment to assess it.

3. Our level of ego-involvement affects the size of our latitudes.

4. We generally distort incoming information to fit our categories of judgment.

5. Small or moderate differences between our anchor positions and the one being proposed will cause us to change. Large discrepancies will not.”

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