In light of recent news about violence, prejudice, and hate, I’ve been struggling to find the words to speak out in support of my values: peace, understanding,and compassion.
I feel immensely grateful to have many friends who are similarly voicing their beliefs. And to those friends I ask for a favor:
Talk about love instead of hate.
Let me explain. I’ve seen many people discuss mass shooters, ISIS, and even Donald Trump–all in an effort to discredit their messages of hate. But there’s a problem.
Our brains mistake repetition for credibility. Even if we know a message is false, the more we hear it the more we believe it. So stop sharing videos of Donald Trump, even if it’s to say you disagree. Because, that actually reinforces his message in all of our brains.
Our brains mistake hearing about tragedies as getting an idea. That is to say behaviors can be contagious. People can be “inspired” by reading/hearing/seeing someone else commit incredible acts. This works both ways. So stop talking about shooters and keep talking about first responders and good samaritans.
Our brains mistake our beliefs for truth, even when we’re presented with information otherwise. That’s why myths are so enduring. So stop repeating them. Whether it’s misinformation or stereotypes–and there’s a lot coming from ISIS, Trump, and others–refrain from commenting “this isn’t true” and say instead what you do believe without repeating falsehoods or negative messages.
I believe in an America where all people are created equal. I believe in an America that dreams one day we’ll be judged by the content of our character. I believe in an America that welcomes the tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
If you are a person who also believes in that America, talk about love instead of hate.
Repetition Leads to Credibility: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwebfiles.uci.edu%2Feloftus%2FFoster_Repetition_ActaPsych2012.pdf%3Funiq%3D7a5h8l&ved=0ahUKEwj3y6PetdDJAhVY9WMKHTe3AOgQFggeMAE&usg=AFQjCNFhABtTO8Jr-7ehGLHdMzE78K1Wbw&sig2=5Dhath_K-BjYS62EeWcEpQ
Social Contagions (Spread of Behaviors via Media Coverage):http://web.stanford.edu/~kcarmel/CC_BehavChange_Course/readings/Additional%20Resources/social%20contagion/Social%20Contagion.htm
Refuting Myths May Backfire: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/12/vaccine-myth-busting-can-backfire/383700/