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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] New GNU

From: Ted Smith
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] New GNU
Date: Tue, 08 May 2012 11:50:59 -0400

On Tue, 2012-05-08 at 09:34 -0600, Dave Crossland wrote:
> On 8 May 2012 06:57, Richard Stallman <> wrote:
> >    It is behavior that social movements
> >    seek to change, not blah blah about 'values.'
> >
> > I disagree.  We need to change both, as every social movement does.
> >
> > We can influence other people's values by
> >
> > * Acting in accord with our values, and
> > * Talking about those values, so people understand why we do what we do.
> You are right.
> Action comes first, then blah blah about values, and changing the blah
> blah IS important - but talk of values is a shadow of the primary
> thing, the changed behavior.

This is not just something we can speculate about -- you're making
statements about reality, and the only way to determine what statements
about reality are relevant is through empiricism.

There's a lot of relevant psychology research in this area.

The most pertinent is the concept of self-perception theory, which
essentially states that humans infer their attitudes from their
behavior. <>

However, if you're trying to use self-perception to influence attitudes,
you need to be very careful that your targets are actually making the
right inferences. This is very tricky to do in practice.

To concertize this, if I give someone a computer with Trisquel to use,
offer to install Microsoft Windows in such a way as to ensure they stick
with Trisquel, and ask them in a month why they use Trisquel, there are
two attitudes they could infer: "I use Trisquel because it's faster and
doesn't get viruses," and "I use Trisquel because I value my freedom."

It's very hard to ensure that the target makes the right attribution
unless you help them along.

As such, it's better to try to change someone's attitude directly, at
which point you can rely on consistency pressure (as in
<>) to produce
the desired behavior stably over time.

Before speculating on how to get people to comply with some request,
like "Use and care about using free software," any software freedom
agitator should read *Influence*, by Cialdini (amazon link with DDG
affiliate tag
. It contains a very good summary of several decades of research into
this field.

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