The Overton Window
Once unthinkable ideas can become mainstream step-by-step.
How unthinkable political ideas become accepted over time follows the principle of the Overton Window — and the same concept can be applied to personal and business life when thinking about how to change the accepted view on a topic among.
Historically, the concept of the Overton Window describes how viable a political idea is based on its distance from the currently accepted mainstream idea. By promoting ideas that are just on the fringe of the window, meaning they are more extreme than the consensus, but still not unthinkable, the window can be shifted over time. This largely explains how once unthinkable policies or ideologies get accepted and can even become the status quo in politics, media, or culture at large.
While mainly used in politics, the Overton Window can be used as an analogy to understand how opinions can be shaped in discussions both in business and personal life — by focusing on that which is still acceptable and establishing this as the new norm to then repeat the process.
Understanding the Overton Window can make us more aware of political opinion-making efforts as well as help us become more effective drivers of change ourselves.
A few further resources you might like if you find the above idea interesting:
📚 Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
🎥 This video explains the concept with the example of Donald Trump
🎥 This 2-min. YouTube video on the basic concept
🎙 Podcast: The Knowledge Project
📝 Wikipedia: The Overton Window
📝 Conceptually.org on the concept
📝 MindVault: Cognitive Dissonance
📝 MindVault: Signal vs. Noise
📝 MindVault: Popularity vs. Truth