It’s a piece of advice we’ve all received at one time or another: Don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. It’s based on the assumption that seeing things from another person’s perspective can open our minds and bring us closer together.
New research contradicts that axiom. It finds that temporarily adopting the point of view of a political opponent can actually harden our original positions.
“Despite its well-known benefits, perspective-taking can inhibit, rather than facilitate, openness to change,” writes a research team led by psychologist Rhia Catapano of Stanford University. The process heightens awareness that political differences are often rooted in incongruous value systems—a realization that prompts people to reaffirm their own beliefs.
Sorry, but I have walked a mile in your shoes, and they are not a good fit.
In the journal Psychological Science, the researchers describe two studies that support their thesis. The first featured 484 users of the website Reddit, who were told they would be interacting with a fellow user who disagreed with them about a contentious political issue: universal health care.
Read the whole story: Pacific Standard