As we enter the closing phases of this presidential election cycle, A question kept popping into my head that I’ve been trying to understand.
Why is it that people cling to certain political views even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
During some recent research on child abuse, I stumbled across something that may have shed some light on the topic.
This study was conducted during the 2004 presidential election cycle. The group which contained people who identified themselves either as committed Democrats or committed Republicans. They showed these subjects contradictory statements from both ends of the political spectrum.
As I would have expected, those that identified themselves as Republicans were quick to point out the contradictions of the Democrats and glossed over or diminished the contractions of the Republicans. Similar results were found with the Democrat subjects.
What I found very interesting was the imaging results, which revealed that the part of the brain most associating with reasoning was dormant. The most active areas were involved in processing emotions, conflict resolution and making judgments about moral accountability.
Most fascinating to me was the fact that once subjects had arrived at the conclusion that made them emotionally comfortable the part of the brain which is related to reward and pleasure was stimulated.
Not only did people fail to use reason, they suppressed contradictory information and then actively sought a resolution to the information that created pleasure.
This explains a lot!
It’s amazing how insights to certain questions can be found right in front of us at times.
I will work hard to fight off the urge to process information based on emotions and will strive to use reason and evidence. Better insights and better decisions can almost certainly be the result.
As a society, I wonder when we will be able to come to a point where we can use reason in how we can discuss and think through difficult issues?
The sooner the better.