Materials to Prepare for Difficult Conversations

The materials on this page aim to help readers understand that people live their lives locked into a worldview, or culture, or “dimension,” or “moral matrix.” These readings and videos offer guidance in how to escape from one’s own limited view and have real conversations with others who might seem like they were raised on a different planet.

If you’ve completed Step 1 and cultivated an open mind, then you and your students or colleagues are ready to move on to Step 2 and prepare for encounters with people who see the world very differently than you do. You might divide up the group into teams and ask each team to read and summarize the lessons of one book or video.



A. Magazines and popular press

  1. Robert Burton, The Certainty EpidemicSalon
  2. Beth Fisher-Yoshida, Expanding the Horizon of Our Perspective Taking, Psychology Today
  3. Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style of American Politics, Harpers
  4. Johnson et. al., Constructive Controversy: The Educative Power of Intellectual Conflict, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning
  5. Robb Willer and Matthew Feinberg, The Key to Political Persuasion, The New York Times

B. Classics

  1. Jesus, The Sermon on the Mount
  2. Martin Luther King Jr., Writings
  3. Zhuangzi, On Leveling All Things

C. Academic

  1. Johnson, et. al., Constructive controversy: The value of intellectual opposition, Small Group Learning in Higher Education
  2. Charles Taber and Milton Lodge, Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs, American Journal of Political Science


  1. Edwin Abbot: Flatland (publisher) (review)
  2. Kwame Anthony Appiah: Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (publisher) (review)
  3. Marcus Aurelius: Meditations (publisher) (review)
  4. John Bowlin, Tolerance Among the Virtues (publisher) (review)
  5. Buddha: The Dhammapada (publisher) (review)
  6. Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People (publisher) (review)
  7. Jonathan Haidt: The Righteous Mind (publisher) (review)
  8. Paterson, et. al.: Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High (Amazon)

If you have ideas for how to use the viewpoint diversity reading list in your school or company, or if you want to suggest additional readings, email us at: