In these polarized times, liberals and conservatives tend to talk past each other. Leftists tend to envision a brighter future, while right-wingers lovingly look to a more-perfect past. “Forward,” urged Barack Obama. “Make America Great Again,” replied Donald Trump.
Here’s a thought: What if we could decouple those deep-seated propensities from actual policy positions? Specifically, what if liberals advocated for a progressive platform by evoking conservatives’ nostalgia for a romanticized bygone era?
Two researchers tried it—and found the approach markedly decreased conservatives’ resistance to liberal ideas. Amazingly, this held true even when dealing with such hot-button issues as immigration and guns.
“Conservatives prefer policies that appear to be grounded in the past, and this strongly influences their support for political ideas,” write University of Cologne psychologists Joris Lammers and Matt Baldwin. This insight, they add, creates “an opportunity to more effectively communicate liberal political issues across party lines.”
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