Do Social Posts Change Minds? Survey Says Yes

We may believe we’re each living in our own social media bubble full of like-minded folks, but new survey data suggests that some of us are being persuaded to change our minds thanks to social posts.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 14% of US adults said they had changed their views over the past year because of something they saw in their social feeds.

That was the average across all age, demographic and political groups, but certain groups were considerably more likely to say that their minds had been changed. At the top of the list: young men ages 18 to 29. Nearly one-third said their views had changed thanks to social media.

In general, younger people were more apt to say their minds had changed. Viewpoints seemed to harden among the older respondents. Among the youngest group (ages 18 to 29), 23% said they had changed; among the oldest (ages 65 and older), just 6%.

eMarketer’s demographics analyst, Mark Dolliver, took the data with a grain of salt, suggesting that the above-average number for young men might reflect an above-average willingness to claim a virtue—in this case, open-mindedness—that they and others actually lack.

But, he said, to the extent that the data reflects true open-mindedness, it might be a reflection of the prevalence of #metoo content on social sites. “Seeing this—and, perhaps, not wanting to be out of step with the young women expressing strong opinions on the subject—a significant proportion of young men may have come to acknowledge that sexual harassment is more of a problem than they had previously been inclined to believe,” he said.

In a somewhat surprising parallel, recent data about the impact of influencers suggests that men are more likely to relate to influencers and heed their advice. According to an August survey by GlobalWebIndex, 41% of men surveyed said influencers affect their purchase decisions, compared with 30% of women.