KU News: Study shows testimonials can open acceptance to differing opinions on controversial topics

Today's News from the University of Kansas

0
52

From the Office of Public Affairs | http://www.news.ku.edu

Headlines

Study shows testimonials can open acceptance to differing opinions on controversial topics
LAWRENCE — New research from the University of Kansas could help communicators reach people on important topics regarding health, life, death and other difficult-to-discuss issues. A study surveyed nearly 1,500 people on their attitudes about several controversial issues, including physician-assisted suicide. When participants then read a testimonial that gave a moving account of a person’s lived experience with the issue, they were more likely to be receptive to an attitude different than their own than those who read an informative article on the same topic.

KU Engineering’s annual Tiberti lecture to focus on sustainable leadership
LAWRENCE — The chairman, CEO and founder of the first African American employee stock ownership plan corporation in Missouri will deliver this year’s J.A. Tiberti Family Lecture at the University of Kansas School of Engineering. KU alumnus Anthony Thompson, CEO of Kwame Building Group Inc., will present “Sustainable Leadership” at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Beren Auditorium in Slawson Hall.

Letters show religious side of avant-garde icon Georges Auric
LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas professor of music and biographer of 20th century French modernist composer Georges Auric has published a new article analyzing how the young musician wrestled with religion seriously, even as he was attracted to the iconoclastic and artistically earthshaking Paris dada and surrealist movements of the 1920s. “Part of the revelation of this project, to me, was the depth and the fervor of this kid in his late teens and early 20s, just passionately diving into really heavy and deep Catholic philosophy and finding connections between that and this music that is typically regarded as atheistic,” author Colin Roust said.

Full stories below.

————————————————————————

Contact: Mike Krings, KU News Service, 785-864-8860, [email protected], @MikeKrings
Study shows testimonials can open acceptance to differing opinions on controversial topics
LAWRENCE — It’s hard to change people’s minds, especially on a topic they feel strongly about. But a new study from the University of Kansas shows that testimonials about a person’s lived experience can open people to acceptance of attitudes different than their own on controversial topics. That could go a long way in helping communicators reach people on important topics regarding health, life, death and other difficult to discuss issues, researchers say.
A study surveyed nearly 1,500 people on their attitudes about several controversial issues, including if they were in favor of or opposed to physician-assisted suicide. When they then read a testimonial that gave a moving account of a person’s lived experience with the issue, they were more likely to be receptive to an attitude different than their own than those who read an informative article on the same topic.
“At their core, testimonials are essentially the story of someone’s lived experience. They can be evocative or emotional. But much of the research on narratives tends to focus on much bigger productions like movies, television or books rather than how testimonials or simpler forms of stories affect people, but not on how effective they can be in everyday life,” said Judy Watts, assistant professor of journalism & mass communications at KU and lead author of the study. “Physician-assisted suicide is a very polarizing issue that can elicit complex and mixed emotions. It hit all the areas we are interested in with researching communication processes and persuasion about issues that involve life and death.”
Participants in the study were randomly assigned either a testimonial or an informative article on the topic, so some received a testimonial or article that aligned with their previous beliefs, while others did not. They then answered another set of questions about how they felt on the topic afterward. Those who read testimonials on physician-assisted suicide, whether pro or con, were the most willing to accept or consider the value of opposing views.
“Regardless of baseline attitudes, they were a little more willing to accept the persuasive argument of the testimonial, even when it differed from their own,” Watts said.
Written with co-authors Michael Slater and Emily Moyer-Gusé of Ohio State University, the study was published in the journal Communication Research.
The findings can help communicators craft messages that are more likely to effectively reach their target audiences, especially if it involves a controversial or sensitive topic, the researchers wrote. During the COVID-19 pandemic, testimonials were used frequently to encourage people to take the vaccine, encourage their family members to do so and to take other protective measures. Those came at a time when there was much public debate about the vaccines, masking, business and school closures and other measures that elicited strong reactions.
While movies and larger productions have long known the influence of an engaging story on audiences, many communicators do not have the budgets or other resources to craft such an elaborate message. The findings also show that testimonials can be effective in eudaimonic situations, or when people are striving to do what is meaningful, even if it is difficult to achieve. In a media-saturated environment it is difficult to produce messages that reach people, and better understanding the effectiveness of certain types of communications can help, especially those with limited budgets and means, reach their target audiences, researchers said.
Watts, who conducts research on the influence of media on individuals’ emotional responses, said she hopes to continue studying the effects of testimonials on other topics, including those that might not be as controversial but are still emotionally fraught, such as end-of-life conversations about whether to resuscitate and end-of-life wishes.
“A thoughtful and emotional testimonial can help reach people. We’ll continue to study what happens when people encounter testimonials on topics that might not be easy to discuss but are nonetheless important for health-related decision making and behaviors,” Watts said.
-30-
————————————————————————
The official university Twitter account has changed to @UnivOfKansas.
Refollow @KUNews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.


————————————————————————

Contact: Cody Howard, School of Engineering, 785-864-2936, [email protected], @kuengineering
KU Engineering’s annual Tiberti lecture to focus on sustainable leadership
LAWRENCE — The chairman, CEO and founder of the first African American employee stock ownership plan corporation in Missouri will deliver this year’s J.A. Tiberti Family Lecture at the University of Kansas School of Engineering.
Anthony Thompson, CEO of Kwame Building Group Inc., based in St. Louis, will deliver this year’s lecture at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Beren Auditorium in Slawson Hall. Thompson’s lecture is titled “Sustainable Leadership.”
“I hope the students discover that leadership is learned and not taught. In order to have longevity in this industry, leadership must be sustained,” Thompson said. “There are various ways for an organization to sustain leadership at a high level.”
Thompson received two undergraduate degrees from the University of Kansas, in architectural engineering and environmental design. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering/construction management from Washington University and has a Master of Business Administration from Webster University.
Thompson said his time at KU served as a springboard for a productive career in the engineering industry.
“KU prepared me for my career in numerous ways — culturally, professionally and personally. The environment is conducive to ‘real world’ challenges,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s career achievements include distinguished alumni awards from KU, Webster University and Washington University; two-time inclusion on the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Leaders; and being named the 2021 St. Louis American Salute to Excellence in Business Honoree.
The J.A. Tiberti Family Lecture began in 2011 through a contribution from members of the Tiberti family to the KU Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering. Topics focus on ethics, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and issues for the education, personal growth and professional development benefit of students.
-30-
————————————————————————
Subscribe to KU Today, the campus newsletter,
for additional news about the University of Kansas.

http://www.news.ku.edu
————————————————————————

Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman
Letters show religious side of avant-garde icon Georges Auric

LAWRENCE — As biographer of 20th century French modernist composer Georges Auric, Colin Roust was somewhat chagrined to learn for the first time – immediately after publishing his book in 2020 — of dozens of letters discussing religious and artistic philosophy the young Auric exchanged with leading Catholic intellectuals of his day.

Perhaps the University of Kansas School of Music associate professor shouldn’t have felt badly.

“His widow told me that when she knew him in the 1970s and ’80s, he wasn’t a practicing Catholic and hadn’t been for a long time,” Roust said. “He never talked about Catholicism or faith or anything. She had no idea about this, either.”
So Roust dove into the archive. The resulting article, “Georges Auric’s Letters to Jacques and Raïssa Maritain,” was just published in The Musical Quarterly.
The letters show the young musician wrestling with religion seriously, even as he was attracted to the iconoclastic and artistically earthshaking Paris dada and surrealist movements of the 1920s.
“Part of the revelation of this project, to me, was the depth and the fervor of this kid in his late teens and early 20s, just passionately diving into really heavy and deep Catholic philosophy and finding connections between that and this music that is typically regarded as atheistic,” Roust said.
Auric connected with the older Maritain couple over their shared interest in the philosophies of St. Thomas Aquinas — essentially concluding that an artist glorifies God by creating art that is a pure and unfiltered reflection of their spirit.
Auric’s unhappy though not battle-scarred service in the French army during World War I is covered in the letters, too.
For some time after the war, and always privately, even as Auric grew closer to dada and surrealist figures like Jean Cocteau, Tristan Tzara and André Breton, Auric and Jacques Maritain wrestled with the religious implications of the artistic innovations of such “pagan” figures as Stravinsky, Picasso and Proust.
“These letters also provide interesting insights in Jacques’ writings. Auric read drafts of some of Maritain’s books, offering suggestions and copy edits. And whenever Maritain discusses musical aesthetics, he refers to the specific examples that Auric mentions in these letters,” Roust said.
This continued even after Auric became critically canonized as one of Les Six modernist composers in 1920. Roust writes that there was a break with the Maritains in 1926, when the composer wrote the music for a satirical ballet that Jacques Maritain considered sacrilegious.
“Dada is a kind of anti-art movement,” Roust said. “They’re trying to radically upset all the norms of art and what we think we know about art, and it’s seen as a very atheistic kind of movement. In part, it’s reacting to close ties between religion and art of all kinds. And Les Six is kind of the same thing. They’re reacting to composers in the 19th century who brought sacred overtones to their music — people like Richard Wagner and even Debussy, to an extent … and they’re radically thinking about music that is of the moment and of the modern day. It’s inspired by circuses, street fairs and that sort of thing. It’s popular music, getting as far away from the church as possible.
“And to suddenly encounter a religious justification for this ultramodern music, it just really complicates it in an unexpected way.”
-30-
————————————————————————

KU News Service
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence KS 66045
Phone: 785-864-3256
Fax: 785-864-3339
[email protected]
http://www.news.ku.edu

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

Today’s News is a free service from the Office of Public Affairs

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here