Kahan on Cultural Cognition and Self-Affirmation:
Guestblogging at Balkinization, Yale lawprof Dan Kahan has an interesting post on tactics for building political coalitions behind policy solutions. As I see it, Kahan's argument boils down to a combination of two basic points:
  1. People are more likely to believe in solutions that appeal to their cultural worldview.
  2. People are reluctant to identify a problem as a problem unless they believe a viable solution exists.
  Kahan then puts these two points together. If you frame a solution to a problem that appeals to someone's cultural worldview, he reasons, you have a better chance than otherwise of getting political support for it. People may actually believe in the solution and thus be more willing to acknowledge the problem. According to Kahan, this dynamic reveals how policymakers can harness "the phenomemon of cultural cognition" to foster a "political analog of the Cohen self-affirmation effect." (For more, see Kahan's recent paper, Cultural Cognition and Public Policy.)

  I wonder, isn't this also the basic idea behind being a salesman? If you are trying to sell a product, you try to figure out your potential customers' worldview and values. You then use that to pitch your product as the answer to an unmet and perhaps unrecognized need. A good salesman can persuade a customer that they have a problem they didn't realize that they had, and that the salesman's product is the best solution to the problem. The product (and the salesman's pitch) is designed to create the perception of a problem the product solves. Am I missing something, or is Kahan's framework a somewhat similar idea applied to selling policy solutions?