Moral Reframing: Compromise, Without the Compromise

Ty Benedict, Staff Writer

In this day and age, more and more people—especially young people—are getting involved in political affairs.  And with such a wide scope of political beliefs, arguments are bound to occur.  These often end in just hurt feelings, with both participants feeling like the person they were arguing with wasn’t listening or was just plain ignorant.  However, the key to effective persuasion is to speak an opponent’s language, also known as moral reframing.  

Moral reframing uses the same arguments as before, but within the lens of the other person’s personal values.  Generally, conservatives and liberals are more likely to share common values in their respective groups. Liberals often value equity, fairness, and community, whereas conservatives often value loyalty, purity, and individualism.  This is evident in a poll done by the Pew Research Center, where participants submitted what they wanted “the other side” to know, since most didn’t feel like the other side understood them.  And most of the replies are within those two lenses, with the liberals talking about fairness, whereas conservatives spoke in terms of individualism and responsibility.

But simply speaking in one’s own values won’t convince people.  Herein lies the solution.  In order to persuade others, people need to incorporate their values into an argument.  In a 2015 study by Stanford sociologist Matthew Feinberg, he found that conservatives were more likely to support same-sex marriage if it was argued for as a subject of loyalty.  And on the inverse, liberals were more likely to support making English our official language when argued for as an equality issue.  So by making an argument based on someone else’s core values, your opponent is more likely to agree with that position.

So in summary, by incorporating someone else’s values into an argument, they are more likely to find common ground with their own beliefs and this new perspective. Hopefully, now Thanksgiving family dinners will be at least a little bit more bearable, and family debates may go a little better.