html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: according to my professor, anyway.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

according to my professor, anyway.

A professor of mine synthesized two human biases into something he called the Devil Shift. He said that for parties locked in longterm conflict, the combination of:
1. valuing losses more than gains, and
2. assimilation bias

result in demonizing your opponents.

Parties in conflict may struggle over policies for decades. Over the course of years, both will win and lose some battles. If people value losses more than gains, they will remember their loses more strongly than their wins. Over years, this will accumulate into a feeling that they frequently lose to their opponents, which will then feel as if their opponents are disproportionately powerful.

Assimilation bias is fairly straightforward. It says that people see and accept evidence that supports their positions better than they see and accept evidence against their positions. It can be as blatant as simply seeing the words on a page. If you give people numbered lists of ten statements that oppose their position, take the paper away and ask them how many sentences were on the page, they say "oh, you know. Seven or eight." They aren't lying. They didn't see the rest. Because of biased assimilation, people in policy conflicts think data and evidence that opposes their position is weaker than it is. Over time, they come to believe that people drawing conclusions from that data are exaggerating or outright liars.

Once you believe your opponents are disproportionately powerful liars, you have completed the Devil Shift.



Part of Dr. Sabatier's Advocacy Coalition Framework, Devil Shift.

4 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

I read a good chunk of The Authoritarians... both surprising and not.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I really liked The Authoritarians. It was a very helpful schema. The part about fear triggering authoritarian leanings fit in nicely with my feelings that conflict resolution approaches are a direct and non-threatening way to reach that group.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous holmegm said...

So, you guys highly weight The Authoritarians because it supports your positions ;)

9:32 AM  
Anonymous RPPE said...

What if your opponent is superior and has the capacity to perpetually alter the rules of the game such that even when they are wrong by the old rules they are made to seem right by the new rules. Would power be worth seeking if you could not at least achieve some capacity for the above.

FN said something like: the generosity of ones superiors is frustrating because it can never be repaid in kind.

8:34 AM  

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