Overcoming Belief Perseverance: How to See the Other SidePosted OnApril 4, 2013 by
By Sridutt Nimmagadda
We live in a time of great divide in America. Nowadays, it seems all too common to categorize people into different groups: the heterosexuals and the homosexuals, the democrats and the republicans, and the left and right. This divide is even evident within our government system as we see a sharp discord between members of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as they try to reach an agreement over the budget. As citizens of the United States in desperate need of an approved budget to assuage our fears of an attenuating economy, we feel as if our leaders simply need to look past their own beliefs and do what is right.
The psychological phenomenon of not being able to understand the other point of view and see the flaws in your own is called belief perseverance, and this phenomenon is at the root of most political disagreements in America. Democrats and Republicans are becoming more divided not necessarily because of ideology but because of their inability to understand the platform of the other side. Group polarization, another psychological phenomenon studied by psychologists such as Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo, also plays into effect here as polarized but politically charged citizens begin to send their ideology further away from the middle of spectrum due to a need to conform. This is a problem.
There is a solution. This solution is fairly simple: Consider the opposite. If you watch Fox News, watch MSNBC right after and then consider an objective fact-checking source such as Politifact or Media Matters Inc. to determine the truth and the lies in each situation. Most important, become politically active no matter what your stance is and be open to debate about policy with people who do not agree with you. Democratic or Republican, we are all citizens of the United States and entitled to what we believe. But it is through intelligent and thoughtful discussion that young Americans can take back our country and put it on the path it needs to be on: the path to prosperity.