Earth & Conservation

Shifting Someone's Prejudice in a 10-Minute Conversation

It's a promising new way of promoting tolerance for the trans community.

<p>Photo: Ted Eytan // Wikimedia</p>

The idea is simple: what if you could change a person's prejudice with just a 10-minute, face-to-face conversation? A new study published in the journal Science indicates a brief conversation could significantly shift a person's attitude toward people who identify as trans.

WATCH MORE: How YouTube Changed a Trans Guy's Life

For their research, David Broockman and Joshua Kalla sent political canvassers in Florida (some trans, some allies) into the Miami-Dade County community to have loosely-structured conversations with some 500 voters. The conversations were prompted by a recently passed law that banned discrimination based on gender identity and expression. First, the canvasser would ask the person how they felt about the law. After that, they would present videos that argued for and against the law. Then, the canvasser would ask the other person to share a time when they felt like they were being judged for who they were; the canvasser would share their own story too. Finally, the canvasser would ask the other person if their opinion of the law had changed based on this interaction.

Did it work? About one in 10 people shifted their opinion to support the law by the end of this conversation. Notably, this shift in opinion would last up to three months -- significantly longer than past campaigns that have tried to change people's attitudes on trans rights. "Most attempts by campaigns to influence voters don't have an impact at all, and the ones that do, the benefit decays in three to five days," said David Fleischer, director of the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, to the Washington Post.

Top photo: A rally in Washington, DC in support of the equal health and livelihood of trans people, taken March 30, 2013 (Ted Eytan // Wikimedia)