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CVA Weekly Newsletter
May 22, 2013

  1. Book Review - Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Tell Us About Social Change
  2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Book Review - Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Tell Us About Social Change

Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Tell Us about Social Change, by Nick Cooney. $22, approx. 250 pp.

Nick Cooney, a current animal activist who has been involved in several progressive campaigns, discusses the vast literature that explores how and why people change their minds and/or behaviors. He notes that most animal advocates fail to take advantage of this wealth of information that could make them more effective at reducing nonhuman animal suffering. Most advocates rely on their own experiences and views, yet the fact that animal advocates are a minority indicates that they might err if they use their own psychology to guide strategies.

Cooney notes that effective advocates keep their target audiences in mind, often modifying their messages to highlight those arguments and considerations that will resonate best. Environmentalists will likely be moved by different arguments for a plant-based diet from those who are very interested in healthy living. In addition, people are more receptive to new ideas when they feel that they and presenters have much in common. Therefore, when addressing a conservative audience, conservative attire and speaking style can be important.

In Cooney’s personal experience, finding common ground, rather than arguing, is often most effective. For example, in a campaign to use eggs from cage-free hens at a college, his initial interactions with the college’s decision-makers were aimed at assessing their needs and concerns. It turns out that there was much more concern for the environment and sustainable living than for hens’ welfare, and his subsequently discussions and presentations emphasized how cage-free egg production is far more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

There is much more scientifically grounded, sound advice in this book.  I strongly recommend it for those who are dedicated to helping animals.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
The Grace of Pentecost 

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