"AND what about my pension?”

In the 2014 referendum, this was the constant question from many like my own sister-in-law, who voted “No” after the campaigning of Unionist “Project Fear”, which saw independence as a possible rerun of the French Revolution, complete with guillotine! And this may be what’s worrying you, if you like the idea of independence but not if it means murder and mayhem.

Having extensively studied personality psychology, I know that cautious and prudent people form the majority of the human race. The psychologist David Keirsey called this personality type “Guardians”: traditional, conscientious, responsible and change-averse, especially if it’s not change they have initiated. To many Guardians, independence is a recipe for chaos and loss: “Will I lose my pension?

Will I have to pay more tax? Will my small business fail?” Many people otherwise sympathetic to independence have these legitimate concerns – and Project Fear will exploit them.

However, we have the perfect response to those views just now.

Scotland voted to stay in the UK and we can see what that brought – not stability but very unpleasant change!

Guardians are good, sensible people, and remind us that they may have legitimate fears about the future.

These worries need to be understood and dispelled – with facts that stand up to scrutiny, as the First Minister’s set of papers on independence issues will demonstrate. People who don’t take unnecessary risks tend to survive into old age. And because people’s preferences tend to solidify with age, at a time when they feel more vulnerable, they become more anxious about change – that’s partly why we have proportionately more older No voters.

Just because change appears scary doesn’t mean everyone’s views are set in stone. An American writer, David Cooperrider (below), some years ago developed an approach called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to help in convincing the change-averse that change didn’t need to be as unnerving as they thought. He got people affected by a proposed change to decide what values and key beliefs they appreciated about their current situation, then to plan how they would take these important values forward into the new one.

Incremental change, not violent revolution, was the AI approach, and it needs stressing that this will be the hallmark of the move to full Scottish independence.

In Scotland, we have values around social justice and fairness which are different – and currently more ethical – than those across the Border. In fact, while change can be scary, we’ve already seen change in the UK – and it’s change that’s seen a massive gap open between the very rich and the rest of our hard-working citizens.

By its very nature, the “No” campaign will always play on fears and anxiety about the future, whereas Appreciative Inquiry focuses on the positive solutions that leave no one out. If you are still undecided, I’d ask you to consider the values that an independent Scotland will take forward – everything that was good about our past.

Our Scottish values of conscientiousness, kindness and social responsibility will continue as key in an independent nation – reassuring the anxious among us that we won’t be signing up to chaos and disruption, but a brighter future for everyone.

This article was published as part of a special-edition paper distributed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the Aberdeen Independence Movement. Click HERE to read more of these articles.