Have you ever wondered if people are actually persuaded by reading op-eds? Given the time and energy needed to write and pitch them, it's an important question for busy advocates.
The good news is: YES! New research found that after reading an op-ed, Democrats and Republicans alike altered their views toward the piece's arguments. Even better, the effects were long-lasting among both the general public and policy experts.
As Alexander Coppock, assistant professor of political science at Yale and the study’s lead author, said, “We found that op-ed pieces have a lasting effect on people’s views regardless of their political affiliation or their initial stance on an issue. People read an argument and were persuaded by it. It’s that simple.”
More than 3,500 "everyday people" and 2,200 "elites" (like journalists, law professors, policy wonks and congressional staffers) were part of the experiment – half read libertarian op-eds on issues like climate change and infrastructure funding before being surveyed on their attitudes on the issues 10 days and one month later, while the half in the control group read nothing before their surveys.
While half of control group participants who hadn't read the op-eds agreed with the arguments, 65 – 70% of the op-ed readers reported agreement after reading them, after 10 AND 30 days. While the general public was slightly more likely to shift their opinions, that shift held for Democrats and Republicans alike. The bottom line: readers were persuaded by what they read.
So next time you're pressed for time and are wondering if you should just skip writing that opinion piece on your issue, thing again – op-eds work!
PS: If you're wondering what makes a powerful op-ed, get in touch – we're pros at writing and pitching op-eds around the state.