Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

Can Members of Congress Change Your Mind? Yes, they just have to talk to you.

Publication date: 
04/2017
Authors: 
David Lazer
Michael Neblo
Can Members of Congress Change Your Mind? Yes, they just have to talk to you.

In politics, it's become conventional wisdom that talking seriously to regular Americans doesn't really pay off. Numerous studies have found that citizens appear to dig in their heels, resisting information that contradicts their beliefs - if they're informed enough to have meaningful beliefs in the first place. When politicians talk to voters, the goal is usually to rev up their base, or shift a tiny wedge of the "undecided," rather to genuinely persuade a broad swath of the public.

This might be a discouraging view of how politics works, but it's also seen as realistic. If Americans aren't persuadable, there's little sense in members of Congress wasting their time trying to have meaningful conversations about the future of the country.

This view is also mostly wrong.

Research Areas TOC

Computational Social Science, Collective Cognition

Computational Social Science, 21st Century Democracy, Political Networks

Computational Social Science, Political Networks

DNA and the Criminal Justice System

21st Century Democracy, Political Networks