How to have productive disagreements about politics and religion

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Source: The Conversation

By

In the current polarized climate, it’s easy to find yourself in the midst of a political disagreement that morphs into a religious argument. People’s religious affiliation predicts their stances on abortionimmigration and other controversial topics, and disagreements about these issues can seem intractable.

The seeming futility in arguing about politics and religion may arise partly because people misunderstand the nature of these beliefs. Many people approach an ideological disagreement the same way they would a disagreement about facts. If you disagree with someone about when water freezes, facts are convincing. It’s easy to think that if you disagree with someone about immigration, facts will be similarly persuasive.

This might work if people’s ideological beliefs worked the same way as their factual beliefs – but they don’t. As psychologists who focus on religious and moral cognition, my colleagues and I are investigating how people understand that these are two separate classes of belief. Our work suggests that an effective strategy for disagreement involves approaching ideological beliefs as a combination of fact and opinion.

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