Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Brian Story: Actions Drive Beliefs

After leafleting at CSU – Stanislaus, Brian wrote the following post to the Adopt a College list (which reminded me of this study):

A student at Fresno City College is engrossed
in the truth after getting a booklet from Brian.

This is the third day in a row I have gotten help from a non-veg person and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the concept. Let’s delve together!

Joyce approached me during the beginning of a class change to tell me how horrible what she saw in the pamphlet was. She started talking about how more people need to be aware about this, how this picture was so bad, how she loved animals, etc. I could tell right away that she was a friendly, outgoing, and normal person. This is key … all of the pieces must be there (e.g., they can’t be socially awkward, unapproachable, etc.).

Because of this, I wanted to get her not only to help, but to get an even stronger personal conviction about the issue so as to change her own diet. Another normal, personable, functional member of society gone vegan/vegetarian is huge.

A sample conversation:
Them: Wow, this is terrible. I mean, I kind of had an idea about what was going on, but I didn’t realize it was this bad?
You: Right??! It’s pretty crazy. Just imagine if more people knew about this.
Them: I KNOW! I mean, look at this picture…. Who would do that to an animal?
You: (handing them a small stack of booklets, maybe 20). Here. I know you’re busy, but you probably have 5 minutes. It would mean a lot to me if you helped out. Like you said, people need to know about this. It’s easy! Watch me. I just smile and say, “Info about the food system” or “Booklet to help animals?” You try! (Be careful about being pushy though. If they are obviously an outgoing and friendly person, this shouldn’t be a problem.)

So much is happening here psychologically for this person once they give out a few leaflets:
First, they see how easy leafleting is and that they are reaching so many people in such a short time. They see the recipients looking at the cover, reacting, saying similar things to what they themselves said when they got the leaflet X minutes or hours ago, “Wow, this is messed up….” “Oh my god…” etc.

They have also created a new piece of their identity; they are now an animal rights activist. They have taken the step from passive bystander to active do-gooder. This is huge. They will tell their friends and family about what they did. They will feel good for the rest of the day, maybe even the next day as people continue to discuss the booklets around them at school. They helped get the word out. I don’t doubt that they will be forever changed as a person.

I saw it first hand -- all three of the people who helped me out were intensely questioning their dietary habits. Once they’ve seen the truth, teamed up to do something about it and educate their peers, they come face to face with more cognitive dissonance than ever before about their food choices. The reality became intensely stronger after leafleting.

I’m going to keep experimenting with this. I hope you try it out too! More leaflets get out, new potential long-time volunteers, and more new vegans/vegetarians.