When you need to engage and persuade people on an issue or topic that matters deeply to them, it’s natural to leverage logic and reason as a way of ensuring your message is heard. However, there are limitations to a wholly rational approach. As members of a team responsible for leading the safe, rapid, and effective rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Jersey — a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom — we experienced first-hand the success of an alternative method.
We’re not saying providing clear and easy-to-understand information isn’t important; in fact, it’s crucial. But it tends to be most useful when communicating to a mainstay who is already bought in and therefore relatively easy to persuade. For disparate, sceptical groups who are trying to make a decision about something that affects them deeply, where enormous amounts of information (and misinformation) are circulating, and where doubts abound, research shows how logic and reason can even backfire as persuasive techniques, resulting in people becoming more entrenched in their views and beliefs. We knew going into the vaccine project that we needed to adopt a different strategy: one founded on making a personal case.
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