A new interdisciplinary study by philosophers and linguists at Cardiff University and psychologists at the University of Bath has found that the process of reflecting on life values before a debate can increase people’s willingness to listen to others and engage with them in civil dialogue Is.
For the study, the research team recruited 303 participants. All the participants were placed in small groups where they were asked to discuss the benefits of charging tuition fees for education. Before the debate, half the people were asked to first write about the life values* they believed to be important. All discussions were recorded, coded and analysed.
Benefits of Reflecting on Values
The analysis revealed that the process of reflecting on values first helped to inspire individuals’ ‘intellectual humility’: an awareness of their own fallibility and openness to the views of others. 60.6% of participants who considered their values first showed more humility than the average person who was not given this task.
In a world where opinion appears increasingly polarized, the researchers suggest their results show grounds for optimism. He speculates that if people stopped and reflected on the values that matter to them, debate in the online and offline worlds could be far more harmonious.
Co-lead of the study, Dr Paul Hannell, who carried out the research at the University of Bath but is now based at the University of Essex, explained: “We are often told that we live in a polarized world where ‘subjects I’ll knock you down before you even get a chance to finish the ‘wrong’ attitude.
“This research suggests that polarization can be exaggerated and that reflecting on personal values before engaging in this type of conversation can make our interactions more harmonious.”
Previous research from a University of Bath-based team in 2019 found that people are actually much more united in their beliefs and values than media reporting suggests. This work is part of a wider project about ‘Changing Attitudes in Public Discourse’ led by Cardiff University.
Co-author Professor Greg Mayo, Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said: “The good news from this study is that the satire we often see online doesn’t have to be that way. We found a marked improvement in the way they engaged in discussions.
“In the future, we would like to see whether this type of value reflection works online as well, to encourage less egotistical interactions among social media users. We will certainly be sharing our findings with social media developers and others.” Will be interested to share.”
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Co-author, Professor Alessandra Tanesini, a philosopher at Cardiff University, says: “Our research shows that strategies that promote good attitudes through value affirmation improve people’s ability to learn from each other Ours is an intervention that can be implemented in schools and universities that also makes an important educational contribution to the students’ education”.