Research Question: What makes people reconsider their preconceived opinions?
In our daily lives we are confronted with conflicting opinions and debates leading to nowhere. New information is steadily flowing in. Finally we end up not knowing what to believe or what advice to take. We create our opinion through automatically filtering the mass of information that surrounds us. The problem is that we aren’t aware of that process. Our social environment, the impact of mass media and our own mental shortcuts mainly influence the way we perceive the world. Most of it affects us subconsciously.
This project is based on a large exploration of the process of opinion formation and how to make people challenge their preconceived viewpoints and revise their beliefs.
There is a certain threat that we automatically get in line with one of the major attractors of opinion – a critical mass of laypeople sharing similar viewpoints. Their collective confidence may grow within the group, which provides false cues to others and triggers a snowball effect that can drive the group in a wrong direction. The inhibited positive reinforcement loop strengthens their social influence. People define themselves through the opinions they have which makes it hard for them to reflect them objectively. Studies show that contradicting people actively even reinforce their false beliefs.
Filtering information has certain threats. However, it is necessary as we cannot process and understand all the complexity our modern world offers. But we need to regain control about the information flow. The solution would be to consciously and objectively filter information instead of letting it be automatically edited out by the unconsciousness part of our brain or the filter bubble we live in. We need a tool that helps us to customise our news feed. But we decide and we evaluate. We are products of our environment to a vast degree, but have the power of choice to counter-balance this fate. This product helps us to browse through a large spectrum of viewpoint to a certain topic, forcing us to reflect what we read and estimate other peoples viewpoints objectively. It helps us to form our own opinions more independently and creates scope for a more open-minded and progressive way of thinking.