Archive for “November, 2015”

Case Study: Peace of Mind for Terminally Ill People

Persuasion Strategies: How We Partnered with Compassion & Choices to Make Aid in Dying a Legal Option for Terminally Ill People and Their Families in California

For more than 20 years, advocates had worked unsuccessfully to pass a law allowing the option of medical aid in dying in California.

In 2014, Compassion & Choices approached Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, Wild Swan Resources and Wonder: Strategies for Good to lead public opinion research and to develop a successful messaging and storytelling strategy in California.

Previous unsuccessful efforts made it clear that the issue did not fall along neat partisan lines in otherwise “blue California.” Voters and legislators had both previously rejected efforts to allow this option for terminally ill people.

Our research showed that people’s lived experiences – including their experiences with doctors who had somehow “gotten it wrong” when it came to a terminal diagnosis, as well as watching their own loved ones die, made many Californians uncomfortable with this type of legislation.

Our role: Using Public Opinion Research, Psychological Analysis & Storytelling Strategies to Understand and Shape Attitudes

Goodwin Simon, Wild Swan and Wonder worked in partnership
 with Compassion & Choices to develop the research methodology and messaging strategy. To begin, Wonder led a media audit to determine how the issue had been framed in California and other states as well as social listening research to understand how ordinary Californians talked about the issue.

Wild Swan developed a psychological analysis of the media audit and social listening research led by Wonder. Wonder also led a pop culture analysis to better understand how stories about aid in dying have been told over the past 20 years in television shows, documentaries and feature films. Together, we created and tested message and story strategies in various qualitative research methods led by Goodwin Simon among African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latino and Anglo voters in California.

Goodwin Simon developed an analysis of the qualitative research, which included a psychological and narrative analysis by Wild Swan and Wonder. The analysis helped us to better understand the competing needs, concerns, values and other conflicts that would prevent voters from being supportive and the messages and stories they needed to hear to manage those heartfelt conflicts.

Goodwin Simon, in partnership with Wild Swan, also developed a statewide survey that tested legislative language among California voters. Based on our research, we created a message and storytelling guide that guided Compassion & Choices in their public communications and legislative advocacy.

Complimenting their grassroots advocacy work, we worked with Compassion & Choices to feature the stories of California families struggling with the terminal illness of a loved one and how the law would give those families peace of mind even if they didn’t use the option. Compassion & Choices tapped their network to find families willing to share their stories.

Those emotionally powerful stories helped to generate empathy among reluctant audiences – even those who would never consider the option if they were terminally ill. The stories featured diverse characters including Catholics, Latinos and Republicans.

In an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, civil rights icon Dolores Huerta recounted the prolonged, agonizing death of her mother from breast cancer. In her appeal to legislators, she wrote:

For those caring legislators who could never imagine considering this option for themselves if they were terminally ill – because it may conflict with their values and beliefs – this vote must be especially tough.

My lifelong work as an advocate for social justice has taught me that these difficult moments require our utmost compassion, the wisdom to imagine walking in another person’s shoes and the ability to respect the wishes of others. Those of us who have cared for a loved one and witnessed a lengthy and painful dying process are urging legislators to act now. 

Our messaging strategy also emphasized the many safeguards included in the legislation to assure concerned Californians that the law would work as intended.

Change Created: After More Than 20 Years, Advocates Succeeded in Making Aid in Dying a Legal Option for Terminally Ill Californians and Their Families

On October 5, 2015, Gov. Brown signed legislation making California the largest state in the nation to allow the option for medical aid in dying – more than 20 years after voters rejected a similar proposal at the ballot box.

In his letter approving the legislation, Gov. Brown reflected the messaging framework we developed that had proven most powerful in persuading reluctant audiences – honoring and respecting the decision of a terminally ill person. He wrote:

In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death. I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.

Advocates are now looking to take the momentum from the victory in California to advance aid-in-dying policies in other states.

Rhinos butting horns

#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

In this week’s #GeekReads; overcoming political polarization; the brain-body divide; disrupting flawed mental templates; losing one’s inner monologue; the good that comes from gratitude.

Reframing the argument. Liberal and conservatives both find it hard to frame arguments that appeal to their political opponents’ values. From Rotman School of Management via Psy Post.

Brain-body divide. Cognitive scientist Guy Claxton argues that cognitive processes aren’t as separate from senses and motor functions as once thought. From Jack Meserve via Science of Us.

Disrupting the narrative. A group of writers seek to change the way Islam is seen and represented in American culture. From Emma Green via The Atlantic.

Inner monologue. We often talk to ourselves as a way of processing our own thoughts and emotions, but what happens when a stroke silences some of that inner monologue? From Claire Cameron via Nautilus.

Giving thanks. Gratitude can increase empathy and support personal well-being. From Tania Lombrozo via NPR.

 

Traveler with suitcase

#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

In this week’s #GeekReads: life in the liminal lane; dealing with cyber-bullying; the influence of environment on brain structure; understanding the empathy gap; gender labels on toys.

Chronically liminal life. A new generation is redefining the boundaries of the liminal state by suggesting transition is not simply life’s interlude, but life itself. From Pamela Weintraub via Nautilus.

Do not feed the trolls. A Muslim activist deals with Internet trolls by donating a dollar to UNICEF for every hate-filled tweet she receives. From Amanda Froelich via True Activist.

Our flexible brains. A recent study found that while brain size is largely determined by genetics, cerebral anatomy is more strongly influenced by environment. From Kate Wheeling via Pacific Standard.

Empathy gap. In light of the recent attacks in Beirut and Paris, one writer unpacks the imbalance in American reactions to concurrent and tragic acts of violence. From David A. Graham via The Atlantic.

Free to be you and me. In an effort to ditch gender labeling when it comes to toys, Mattel has created the first Barbie ad featuring a boy. From Rachel Bertsche via Yahoo.

 

Robot in the sand

#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

In this week’s #GeekReads; empathizing with robot ‘pain’; emotional expressiveness and gender stereotypes; Ferguson in the classroom; literary trigger warnings; when jealousy and empathy collide.

Robo-empathy. A study finds that people have visceral, automatic empathy responses to seeing robots in painful situations. From Greta Weber via Slate.

‘Manly’ restraint. In a recent experiment, participants viewed emotional restraint as a sign of intelligence in men, but as something suspect in women. From Tom Jacobs via Pacific Standard.

Learning from protest. A course called Black Lives Matter: Race, Resistance and Popular Protest at NYU’s Galltin School inspires engaged discourse in an environment of mutual respect. From Errin Whack via NPR.

Reading is risky. Reading carries the potential for emotional and psychological upheaval, offering us challenging experiences that are rarely under our control. From Frank Furedi via Aeon.

When jealousy and empathy collide. A new study suggests we show less neural empathy for those we dislike or view as competition. From Christian Jarrett via Science of Us.

Robot reading

#GeekReads: 5 Quick Reads that Made Us Smarter

In this week’s #GeekReads: the psychological appeal of horror; a controversial depiction of slavery in children’s lit; a voting reform pipe dream; Richard Scarry and the changing times; tricked into disagreeing with ourselves.

Terrify for a living. Author Alana Massey explores what motivates individuals to scare others, while also examining the psychological appeal and impact of horror. Via Pacific Standard.

Bittersweet Dessert. The children’s book A Fine Dessert has some critics concerned about whitewashed representations of slavery. From Leah Donnella via NPR.

Compulsory voting. Could compulsory voting ever be enacted in America? Nicholas Stephanopoulos lays out one possible path, starting at the municipal level. Via The Atlantic.

Illustrating social change. One man’s Flickr set catalogs the subtle but telling revisions made to Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever between 1963 and 1991. From Lisa Wade Ph.D. via Mental Floss.

Selective laziness. A Swedish study drives home the point that we judge reasoning posed by others more harshly than we judge our own. From Melissa Dahl via Science of Us.

 

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