Sonya Thomas lcsw

Viewpoint Diversity – Part 1

I am confident that I am not alone in the stuggle to make sense of what has been going on in our county over the past 18 -24 months, begining with the 2016 campaign season, though the election and continuing on today.  Clients come to therapy discussing their anxieites over the state of the union.  Families are divided.  Incivility abounds on social media.  We choose our own echo chambers and rarely leave them.  Our righteous indignation feels deserved and we bristle when challenged to see things from any other angle besides our own.  For all of the above reasons and more, I have devoted the past year to the persuit of viewpoint diveristy, delving deeply into the concept and it’s ancillary threads.  I hope that this series will serve as an invitation to you to explore this concept and in so doing, perhaps gain a deeper understanding of not only yourself, but also others on the opposite end of the ideologiccal speactrum.

To start this journy, I participated in a 5 module immersion experience using the open mind app.  Open Mind is an interactive platform designed to depolarize communities and foster mutual understanding across differences.  Over the next several posts in this series, I will share the major takeaways from each module.

Here’s a summary of what I learned in Step 1:

  • There are two types of learning that complement one another: assimilation is when we encounter new information that we are able to fit it into our pre-existing mental structures, and accommodation is when we encounter new information that doesn’t fit. It takes extra effort (and sometimes discomfort) to accommodate new information by changing our existing mental structures.
  • Viewpoint diversity helps you get closer to the truth. In order to fully understand an issue, you need to challenge your assumptions and consider it from multiple angles.
  • Viewpoint diversity will help you be more persuasive. By engaging with people with whom you disagree, you can understand where they’re coming from, and craft arguments that will more likely appeal to them.
  • Viewpoint diversity will open up opportunities for growth and learning. Realizing that your views and opinions have evolved over time is a sure sign of intellectual development.
  • Therefore, it’s ideal to talk to both people with whom you agree and disagree, and try to learn from them why they believe what they believe.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series.  Until then, peace.