It is often claimed that in order to get into an argument on social media, all one has to do is post a comment and wait. Science now states that this is probably correct.
Yes, as from now we have a scientific explanation for why most discussions on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter eventually descend into the darkness of an argument, and why at a certain point someone will post in all caps something like ‘you are a Nazi.’
Scientists at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Chicago state that according to their survey results there are clear differences in reacting to someone’s observations and arguments if you listen to them or watch the person speak aloud in person, rather than read what they write on Facebook.
The study is called “The Humanizing Voice: Speech Can Reveal and Text Conceal, The Presence of a Thoughtful Mind in The Midst of Disagreement”, and was recently published in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers have been monitoring 300 people’s reaction to what they read, watched videos, or listened to arguments on topics such as war, abortion and music.
The study concludes that: “when two people hold different beliefs, there is a tendency not only to recognize a difference of opinion but also to denigrate the mind of one’s opposition. Because another person’s mind cannot be experienced directly, its quality must be inferred from indirect cues.”
More importantly, the result suggest that the medium through which people communicate significantly influences the impressions the reader has and therefore the tendency to question the other person becomes “significantly tempered by giving them, quite literally, a voice.”
Miss Juliana Schroeder from Berkeley explains that this is because communicating through voice makes the other person speaking seem more reasonable and human.
“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. When he read the statement, the politician seemed idiotic, but when he heard it spoken, the politician actually sounded reasonable.”