The study examines how thinking about your values ​​before you open your mouth leads to happier relationships


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Have you ever found yourself angry about a situation and desperate to tell the world about it by yelling at anyone who will listen? Maybe it’s time to stop; Inhale and think about the values ​​that are dear to you.

A new interdisciplinary study, conducted by philosophers and linguists at Cardiff University and psychologists at the University of Bath, finds that the act of reflecting on life values ​​before a discussion can enhance people’s willingness to listen to others and engage with them in civil dialogue.

For the study, the research team recruited 303 participants. All participants were placed in small group They were asked to discuss the advantages of charging tuition fees for education. Before the discussion, half were first asked to write about the life values ​​they considered important. All discussions were recorded, coded, and analysed.

The analysis showed that the act of reflecting on values ​​first helped inspire individuals ‘intellectual humility’ (their awareness of their own fallibility and openness to the opinions of others): 60.6% of the participants who thought about their values ​​first showed more humility compared to those who did not. average person who has not been assigned this task.

In a seemingly always distant world where opinions seem increasingly polarized, the researchers suggest that their findings show reasons for optimism. If people stopped to think about the values ​​that matter to them, discussions in the online and offline world might be more harmonious, they speculate.

Study co-leader Dr Paul Hannell, who conducted the research at the University of Bath but is currently working at the University of Essex, explained: “We are often told we live in a polarized world where having a ‘wrong’ view on topics will make you scream before you have the chance. to finish.

“This research suggests that polarization may be exaggerated by stopping to think about it Personal values By engaging in these types of conversations, our interactions can become more harmonious.”

previous search A team from the University of Bath in 2019 found that people are actually more united in their beliefs and values ​​than media reports often suggest. The work forms part of a broader project on ‘Changing Attitudes in Public Discourse’ led by Cardiff University.

Co-author Professor Greg Mayo, Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, added, “The good news from this study is that the vitriol we always see online doesn’t have to be this way. By offering participants an opportunity to reflect on their values, we found A significant improvement in how they participate in discussions.

“In the future, we’d like to see if this kind of value reflection also works online, to encourage a less arrogant dialogue among social media users. We’d certainly be interested in sharing our findings with social media developers and others.”

Co-author Professor Alessandra Tanesini, a philosopher at Cardiff University, adds: “Our research shows that strategies that reinforce virtuous attitudes via value affirmation improve people’s ability to learn from each other. Our intervention is one that could be implemented in schools and universities as well, making an important pedagogical contribution to teach students “.

The study has been published in the journal Royal Society for Open Science.

more information:
Using self-affirmation to increase intellectual humility in the debate, Royal Society for Open Science (2023). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220958.

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