Why Sharing Personal Stories Is More Important Than Facts in Bridging Political Divide

Kurt Gray: The key to fostering respect is to support your political beliefs with personal experiences, especially those involving harm. If you are pro-gun rights, talk less about the statistics of responsible gun ownership, and more about how you used a gun to protect your family. If you are pro-immigration, talk less about the economic potential of the DREAMers, and more about how your family was torn apart by deportation. Supporting your beliefs with experiences of harm increases respect because it makes you seem more rational. Although we often think facts and rationality go hand in hand, Charles Darwin long ago recognized that it is rational for any organism to avoid harm. Like Darwin, people of all political affiliations intuitively appreciate the rationality of avoiding emotional or economic suffering. It is much harder to call someone “brainwashed” or a “sheeple” when their political beliefs are grounded in the earnest desire to protect themselves and their family from danger.

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