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How can you change someone's mind? (hint: facts aren't always enough) - Hugo Mercier


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Why do arguments change people’s minds in some cases and backfire in others? Hugo Mercier explains how arguments are more convincing when they rest on a good knowledge of the audience, taking into account what the audience believes, who they trust, and what they value.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

For centuries, philosophers have debated how arguments work and why some are more effective than others. This TED-Ed lesson introduces Aristotle’s view on the topic. In the twentieth century, the two most influential argumentation scholars have been Chaïm Perelman and Stephen Toulmin, who created the influential Toulmin model of argumentation—which you can find explained in this video.

In parallel to these philosophical works, the twentieth century saw psychologists tackle empirically the question of which arguments work, when, and for whom. One of the most popular theories suggests that our response to arguments is deeply influenced by our motivation, so that we’re mostly able to discriminate between strong and weak arguments when the conclusion matters to us. More recently, Dan Sperber and the educator have integrated work on reasoning, social psychology, and argumentation to develop the argumentative theory of reasoning, according to which the main functions of human reason are social: to exchange justifications and arguments with others. Click here to learn more.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Hugo Mercier
  • Director Biljana Labović
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Animator Charlotte Arene
  • Designer Charlotte Arene
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott, Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Francisco Diez

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