Persuasion Invasion
[PLAY]

Civil discourse in the United States is largely unproductive and there is some evidence that the problem is getting worse. This is particularly true on social media, where civil discourse more often results in increased anger and frustration rather than empathy and actionable progress toward our shared goals.

Persuasion Invasion focuses on improving civil discourse skills like:

Perspective Taking

Students practice empathizing with perspectives they disagree with, a crucial starting point for productive discourse.

Identifying Values

Students practice identifying the values that are at the root of beliefs, arguments, and news headlines.

Recognizing Shared Values and Common Goals

Students practice finding shared values among discussants with differing beliefs, and use those shared values to build consensus.

What the game isn't.

Our game is not about changing a student's beliefs.

Our goal is not to give students tricks they can use to fool someone into agreeing with them. Instead, our goal is to help discussants understand and empathize with the other side in an effort to combat tribalistic thinking. The hope is that this helps both discussants hold beliefs that are actually in line with what they value, rather than blindly adopting the beliefs of their friends, family members, or political leaders.

Our game is not about finding middle ground.

Finding the middle ground is not an effective solution, as it slowly pushes each party to become even more polarized (i.e., they can secure more elements of their position if they start much farther from the middle than the opposing side). Instead, this game is about finding shared values and using those values as the foundation of an actionable solution.

Our game does not confuse civility with politeness.

Instead, we subscribe to Papacharissi's view of civility. Namely, that the purpose of civility is not simply to ensure that the flow of conversation is smooth, but, more importantly, it is to foster democratic goals. Moreover, discourse governed only by politeness will likely work against our instructional goals by silencing marginalized opinions in an effort to minimize conversational friction.

Our game is not a replacement for in-person discussions.

Instead, we hope to augment the productivity of those discussions by giving students the opportunity to practice discourse skills in a safe, scaffolded, and adaptive environment. If our game is a batting cage; in-person discourse is the game of baseball we're hoping to support.

Artificial Intelligence allows us to give
individualized instruction where it's needed most.

Tracking Skill Mastery

We can use performance data to predict what skills a student has mastered, and which skills they need more practice on.

Measuring Bias

By comparing student performance when evaluating arguments they agree with vs. disagree with, we can estimate (and eventually reduce) bias in the evaluation of politically-charged information.

Targeting PA State Civics Standards like:

5.2.12.B

Examine the causes of conflict in society and evaluate techniques to address those conflicts.

5.2.9.D

Analyze citizens' role in the political process toward the attainment of goals for individual and public good.

5.1.12.F

Evaluate the role of nationalism in uniting and dividing citizens.

We're looking for partners!

We are looking for Social Studies, Civics, and English teachers who are interested in sharing their expertise or interested in using our game in their classroom.

For more information, please email: ndiana@cmu.edu