Sunday, November 17, 2013

Much of the attitude change disappeared after 1 year

A morsel of evidence regarding the degree and permanence of reading on core KESVB (Knowledge, Experience, Skills, Values, and Behaviors). From Does reading books change your mind? by Tyler Cowen. The study is here. The abstract.
Attitude change is a critical component of health behavior change, but has rarely been studied longitudinally following extensive exposures to persuasive materials such as full-length movies, books, or plays. We examined changes in attitudes related to food production and consumption in college students who had read Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma as part of a University-wide reading project. Composite attitudes toward organic foods, local produce, meat, and the quality of the American food supply, as well as opposition to government subsidies, distrust in corporations, and commitment to the environmental movement were significantly and substantially impacted, in comparison to students who had not read the book. Much of the attitude change disappeared after 1 year; however, over the course of 12 months self-reported opposition to government subsidies and belief that the quality of the food supply is declining remained elevated in readers of the book, compared to non-readers. Findings have implications for our understanding of the nature of changes in attitudes to food and eating in response to extensive exposure to coherent and engaging messages targeting health behaviors.
This is consistent with all the studies of Head Start which is intended to make up for accumulated disadvantages in the first four years of life by providing a learning enriched environment for the first couple of years of school. As long as they are in the program, kids show improvement. As soon as they finish the program, they revert to mean.

Selections from the comments.
Pete November 10, 2013 at 3:58 am Wouldn’t you expect that over time the readers become exposed to more and different ideas and thus their opinion changes continuously? It’s not that “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” should be taken as a bible representing absolute truths. The more extreme the book the stronger I would expect the regression effect to be.

john personna November 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm I think so. I have never read OD but I think my food (and exercise) beliefs are a time averaged synthesis of things I believed. I mean for instance that there must be some kernel of truth in the idea of natural human diet, without going paleo-nuts.
People tend to view books as binary in effect - it causes something or not (such as a change of mind or a change in behaviors). In reality, I suspect it is much as john personna indicates - one element in an accumulation and synthesis of KESVB with effect often highly dependent on sequence and context. People that read a lot likely end up with better life outcomes not necessarily because of what they read but because of the simple act of reading. More input means more contradictions and surprises that need resolving, leads to more thinking leads to clearer thought processes. Perhaps.

No comments:

Post a Comment