Are you an outspoken individual who relishes the opportunity to voice your opinions during discourse on Facebook? Are you one of those shit-stirrers that sees someone’s status update about that states that Making A Murderer‘s Steven Avery is guilty and then you barge into the conversation by calling the OP a “cheesedick” for even questioning Avery’s innocence, shouts 13 incoherent posts in ALL CAPS with poor grammar? And by your last entry you will have called everyone derogatory slurs and threatened to teabag anyone who doesn’t agree with you? You don’t have to be that guy. Science is here to show you how to be better.
A study carried out by researchers at Cornell have found specific techniques that you can use to win arguments online. That’s right, when you are armed with this proven date you can now win arguments about everything ranging from Planned Parenthood to what’s the better burger joint Shake Shack or In-N-Out to if Donald Trump is a legitimate candidate to a discussion about how many 3rd graders a grown man should be able to fight at one time.
The study analyzed 18,000 threads over two and a half years in Reddit’s Change My View, which is a “subreddit for people who have an opinion on something but accept that they may be wrong or want help changing their view.”
This subreddit was a fantastic place to base their study since there was a variety of topics and they could easily see how people were able to persuade others into believing their opinions. Those who succeed in persuading fellow-Redditors receive a point called a “delta.”
Cornell’s Chenhao Tan, a PhD candidate in computer science and the corresponding author of the paper, said the team of researchers believe their findings can be generalized to other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and the always cheery comment section of YouTube.
Here are the eight techniques that will give you the firepower to help you win that argument that bronies are have a tougher plight than an otherkin that identifies as Benjamin Franklin’s bifocals.
- Respond to the initial statement sooner rather than later.
- Respond in groups: You’re more persuasive to the person you’re arguing with if other people are arguing your side, too.
- Have a few back-and-forth exchanges with your opponent, but never go past three or four. Up to that point, your chance of persuading them is pretty good. But Tan says that “when the back-and-forth goes on for too long, your chances at persuasion become very low.”
- Link to outside evidence. Like this!
- Don’t quote the person you’re arguing with. They’ll usually interpret that as “nit-picking with their wording,” Tan says, and thus what you say is unlikely to sway their opinion.
- Don’t act too intense — that scares people off. Stick to calm, even-keeled language.
- Write a longer response if you’re actually trying to change someone’s opinion. A one-liner probably won’t do it.
- Last but not least, try to base your arguments around points that your opponent didn’t initially address: i.e.: If your weird uncle posts that he’s voting Trump because Trump will improve the economy, you should argue that he shouldn’t vote Trump because of his views on Muslims. The researchers found that arguments whose “content words” differed from those of the original poster were more likely to persuade them.
However, please keep in mind that these tactics won’t help you if your viewpoint is severely flawed or if you try to argue that jet fuel melts steel beams.