Not an exhaustive study, but interesting -- if not kind of obvious.  - DG

How the Mind Counteracts Offensive Ideas
People react to ideas they find offensive by reasserting familiar structures of meaning.


The human mind is always searching for meaning in the world. It’s one of the reasons we love stories so much: they give meaning to what might otherwise be random events.


From stories emerge characters, context, hopes and dreams, morals even. Using simple structures, stories can communicate complex ideas about the author’s view of the world and how it works, often without the reader’s knowledge.


And when stories embody values in which we don't believe, we tend to reject them. But, according to a new study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, it goes further than just rejection, psychologically we push back against the challenge, reasserting our own familiar structures of meaning.


In their research Proulx et al. (2010) used two stories that illustrate divergent views of the world to explore how people react to offensive ideas.


Read the rest on PsyBlog.

Tags: bias, denial, meaning, mind, psychology

Views: 28

Replies to This Discussion

Sounds a little like the books and research that have written about "Frames" and "Memes." It is pretty interesting. I've always wondered how much an individuals awareness of such things later plays a role in them. Does it increase or decrease the effect?
What are frames? What do you mean?

I'm sure it decreases the effect.
I'm not sure that George Lakoff coined the term or if it tends to be associated with him because he's written about it more. I've read a couple of his books. Don't Think of An Elephant is pretty good. Frames are similar to Memes. It's the idea that certain words can/do convey more than the word itself implies. The wording you use triggers responses that go beyond the individual words. I'm not really explaining it that well. Check out Lakoff. I don't completely agree with the premise but it is interesting.
I've always thought it was just shorthand for "frame of reference". Framing the debate is a strategy of shifting the arena onto home turf. Republicans are good at this, or rather, their home turf is so simplistic that it's easy for them to frame the debate in simple, emotional terms that are easily grasped by simplistic people (aka Republicans, Libertarians, Teabaggers). Ultimately, frames solidify into code words like pro-life, family values, god and country, states' rights, freedom, etc. You quickly gain the rhetorical upper hand (at least amongst the simple-minded) by using such frames. Who could be anti-life, anti-family, unpatriotic, against freedom and individual rights?

Of course, actual reality is a little more nuanced, so people with a broader understanding of the issues start out with more explaining to do and thus have more work to do to create frames. It's an uphill battle to be a part of the reality-based community. The frame of reference is inherently more complicated and more difficult to sound-bite on a two-minute "analysis" segment on cable news.

Still, framing is practiced by all sides in a debate. Examples like pro-choice, compassion, fairness, are available. To get around the issue raised in the study linked above, you have to hook somebody with something they already agree with. Who could be against choice, compassion, fairness? If you start your story with an attractive proposition, it's easier to get people to buy the rest of it. It's all about salesmanship.
Framing (social sciences)

A frame in social theory consists of a schema of interpretation — that is, a collection of anecdotes and stereotypes—that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events.[1][page needed] In simpler terms, people have, through their lifetimes, built series of mental emotional filters. They use these filters to make sense of the world. The choices they then make are influenced by their frame or emotional filters.

In psychology, framing is influenced by the background of a context choice and the way in which the question is worded (see Framing effect (psychology)).

To clarify: When one seeks to explain an event, the understanding often depends on the frame referred to. If a friend rapidly closes and opens an eye, we will respond very differently depending on whether we attribute this to a purely "physical" frame (s/he blinked) or to a social frame (s/he winked).

Though the former might result from a speck of dust (resulting in an involuntary and not particularly meaningful reaction), the latter would imply a voluntary and meaningful action (to convey humor to an accomplice, for example). Observers will read events seen as purely physical or within a frame of "nature" differently than those seen as occurring with social frames. But we do not look at an event and then "apply" a frame to it. Rather, individuals constantly project into the world around them the interpretive frames that allow them to make sense of it; we only shift frames (or realize that we have habitually applied a frame) when incongruity calls for a frame-shift. In other words, we only become aware of the frames that we always already use when something forces us to replace one frame with another.[2][3]
I enjoyed reading this.  I didn't know about this website -- thanks.  It does sound like memes to me.  I am interested to study on how belief systems are passed on.

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