Social media, Facebook in particular, has become a hotbed of arguments. Whatever issues you can think of–from political to personal–someone will always have something to write about them. According to researchers, however, it is not wise to argue on Facebook.
It all has to do with the ways we respond to different forms of communication. An experiment by UC Berkeley and University of Chicago researchers shows we react differently to what someone writes than what they say – even if the message is exactly the same.
For the study, 300 subjects were asked to either read, watch a video of, or listen to arguments about hot topics, including war and abortion.
The participants were then interviewed about their reactions. The general response was that anyone who didn’t agree with them were either too ignorant or too uncaring to know better.
But the researchers did find an interesting difference between those who had watched or listened to someone speak the words and those who had read the identical words as text.
Participants who had listened or watched someone say the words were less likely to dismiss the speaker as someone uninformed or uncaring.
The experiment was actually inspired by one of the researchers’ experiences. Juliana Schroeder relayed to the Washington Post:
“One of us read a speech excerpt that was printed in a newspaper from a politician with whom he strongly disagreed. The next week, he heard the exact same speech clip playing on a radio station. He was shocked by how different his reaction was toward the politician when he read the excerpt compared to when he heard it.”
The research suggests that a better and healthier way to argue would be through verbal communication.
People who disagree with each other have a better chance at achieving understanding, compromise, and healthy debates than people who merely exchange comments on Facebook, send lengthy emails, or endlessly text each other.
The research also suggests that since today’s communication is more impersonal, it could be contributing to greater divide among people. Perhaps it’s best that, when arguing, we speak instead of write.
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