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Valley psychologist offers tips on how to reason with conspiracy theorists

Supporters of President Donald Trump hold signs as they attend a "Stop The Steal" rally, protesting the outcome of the presidential election, at the Oregon State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

PHOENIX – Congress on Thursday finalized Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Despite that, some supporters of President Donald Trump continue refuse to accept the outcome of the race.

Outspoken supporters have continued to claim widespread election fraud indicating their votes were stolen although no evidence has proved it to be true.

As tensions have continued to rise and political conversations seem to be everywhere, Biltmore Psychology’s Dr. Melissa Estavillo described how to reason with someone who strongly believes in conspiracy theories.

To start, you must understand to change someone’s belief requires a long-term investment. The idea of stealing or changing mail-in ballots was not created overnight and neither will changing someone’s feelings about it.

Whether we like it or not, all of us can be powerfully swayed by emotions. And our feelings are not always driven by logic or reason, but rather often times we end up using our reasoning ability to justify or defend a conclusion that we’ve already drawn based on our emotions.

However, building trust will get you far.

“At the end of the day they’re not believing facts because they don’t trust the sources and so if they don’t trust you, they’re also going to reject whatever facts you give them,” Estavillo told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

Once you have built trust, you can attempt to plant small seeds with the demonstration of empathy and work to see their perspective.

“Place a subtle idea in someone’s mind so that can start to foster a bit of change,” Estavillo said.

No matter what the conversation is, try to avoid creating a debate. If you can find common ground with someone, despite disagreeing on the topic discussed it will help in the long run.

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