Marmite - by Matthew Blackmore-Squires

Has this now been relegated to the second biggest divider of national opinion in recent British history?

As the advert stated; 'You either love it, or hate it'.

Even when asking the question of others, it would normally equate to about a 50/ 50 split either way, and could you persuade the opposing side to swing their opinion? In my experience, not very often, if at all. People are often wary when being asked to change their minds. “Why should I? What’s in it for me?” These are just a couple of the obvious retorts.

So how do you break down barriers and get people thinking differently?

Well, psychologically speaking, changing someone's mind is rather difficult. Let’s reflect on the most recent political event to be written into British history books, Brexit. It’s a similar split to the Marmite argument at roughly 50%. Talking to someone with opposing ideas and beliefs on the subject can raise heated debate and often end in a stand-off. In politics, public statements - in this case referendums - are rarely overruled, which makes the forthcoming political and economic decisions extremely difficult propositions. Good luck Mrs May!

You see, it’s quite simple: our strongly held beliefs form a network of consistent concepts. In order to get someone to reconsider their views, it's important to understand the role of "coherence" in supporting beliefs. Or more simply put, the examples that back up your beliefs and ideas.

To change people’s minds, it is important to undermine the coherence among the things that they do believe, to develop counterarguments to their most significant sources of support and to expose them to more pieces of information that are consistent with new beliefs. Attaining all this information from multiple sources or influencers is also key . After all, the easiest way for people to maintain their current beliefs is to decide that any contrary information is unreliable, or simply ignore it. The Brexit campaign is a good example of this method; It played with people’s beliefs, ideas and emotions.

With all this said, our method is rather simple and although the tasks we are asked to resolve are not as political or perhaps as daunting as the task ahead for Mrs May - the same principles still apply, which boil down to Definitions and Objectives. By clearly defining issues, one is more likely to be able to get to the crux of the issues, identify common ground with the opposing party and find areas where they are in agreement.

Working collaboratively with opposing parties also helps to set clear and achievable objectives for resolving the defined issues. Research suggests that by having a greater level of detail in definitions combined with setting a greater number of actions in order to achieve the objectives, leads to an enhanced perception of success by those looking on from above, within or outside.
Yet, of course some people will never change their minds. After all, taste buds are genetically engineered to simply accept the stuff you love or hate.

P.S. I love it. Especially when spread over hot granary toast with butter!