Critical Conversation

Have a critical conversation about a controversial topic of civic concern with an individual who holds a differing position on the issue than you and is at least 18 years old. This is an opportunity for you to exchange ideas and question your own beliefs, as well as think critically about course content and apply it to an interaction with someone who holds differing beliefs and attitudes. 

  • Topics of civic concern involve issues of local, national, and global importance including abortion, affirmative action, gender issues, gun control, immigration, marriage equality, religious freedom, racism, discrimination, social justice, war and peace, and welfare.
  • Analyze the critical conversation using theories from Myer Part Three Social Influence (Modules 12-21): cultural diversity/similarity, gender differences, gender and mating preferences, gender roles, conformity, power of social norms, persuasion, indoctrination and inoculation, the presence of others, many hands make diminished responsibility, deindividual-ization, diminished self-awareness, group polarization, groupthink, resisting social pressure, and minority influence.

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Critical Conversation

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Having a critical conversation about a controversial topic of civic concern is an important exercise in expanding our understanding, questioning our own beliefs, and developing critical thinking skills. It allows us to engage with individuals who hold differing opinions and challenge our own preconceived notions. In this particular exercise, we will analyze the critical conversation using theories from Myer Part Three Social Influence (Modules 12-21). This will enable us to examine the impact of cultural diversity/similarity, gender differences, conformity, persuasion, and other social influence factors in such conversations.

When engaging in a critical conversation about a controversial topic of civic concern with an individual who holds a differing position, it is crucial to approach the discussion with respect and open-mindedness. By doing so, we create an environment conducive to thoughtful exchanges and mutual learning.

To begin the conversation, it is helpful to establish common ground and express a genuine desire to understand the other person’s perspective. Demonstrating empathy and active listening skills can foster trust and encourage the individual to share their beliefs openly.

Throughout the conversation, it is important to recognize and analyze the impact of cultural diversity/similarity and gender differences. Cultural diversity influences individuals’ values, beliefs, and attitudes, and recognizing this can help us understand why someone holds a particular viewpoint. Similarly, gender differences may play a role in shaping opinions on certain topics, and acknowledging these differences can enhance our understanding of the individual’s position.

Conformity is a significant aspect of social influence that may arise during the conversation. It is crucial to remain aware of the potential for conformity and actively challenge our own beliefs and biases. By critically reflecting on our own perspectives, we can ensure that the conversation remains open and intellectually stimulating.

Persuasion techniques may be employed by both parties during the conversation. Understanding the principles of persuasion, such as establishing credibility, appealing to emotions or logic, and providing evidence, can help us evaluate the effectiveness of these techniques in shaping our own or the other person’s beliefs.

Additionally, it is essential to consider the impact of social norms, the presence of others, and the potential for group polarization or groupthink. These influences may affect both individuals’ willingness to express their true opinions or openly question prevailing beliefs. Recognizing these dynamics can help create a safe and inclusive space for open dialogue.

Finally, the concept of minority influence is relevant in this critical conversation. By acknowledging the importance of minority perspectives, we can ensure that diverse viewpoints are considered and give careful thought to the potential biases introduced by majority opinions.

In conclusion, engaging in critical conversations about controversial topics of civic concern allows for dynamic exchanges of ideas and personal growth. By applying theories from Myer Part Three Social Influence, we can analyze the impact of various factors such as cultural diversity/similarity, gender differences, conformity, persuasion, and group dynamics. Through respectful and open-minded dialogue, we can promote understanding and develop our critical thinking skills, contributing to a more inclusive and informed society.

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