Of all the numerous organs that make up the human body, there’s no question that the brain is the most fascinating and least understood. Indeed, thanks to the burgeoning field of neuroscience, we’re not only discovering new insights into how this vital organ functions, but we’re also beginning to appreciate the depth of its complexity and mysterious nature.
Of course, as amazing as the human brain is, the fact is that it’s also quite lazy. A good example of this is the ease by which we create habits, and the corollary of how hard it is for us to break some of these habits. Granted, the formation of habits is our brain’s way of reserving our limited reserves of energy and focus for use in critical thinking and decision-making pathways. In this way, we don’t spend our days consciously thinking about the routine tasks we perform on a given day.
Unfortunately, this tendency of our brain to try and find repetitive patterns in our daily lives is also what leads us to create assumptions – assumptions about others, about how others view us, and about what we need to do to improve a situation or achieve a certain outcome.
Consider, for example, a review of numerous studies looking at the societal attitudes among the various generations which found that – contrary to popular belief or assumptions – the Millennial generation is no less racist than their preceding cohort, the Gen X generation. What’s particularly troubling about this finding is not the fact that the Millennial generation are far from being “the most tolerant generation in history”.
Rather, as this article points out, the danger these findings reveal is how the assumptions we make about ourselves and our communities can distort our understandings of the real challenges our society needs to address in order to ensure our collective success and freedoms.
These findings demonstrate a decision-making process we all employ called motivated reasoning, which brain-imaging studies have shown uses a different physical pathway in our brain than the one we use to analyze data.
Studies have shown that when we have a personal stake in a given outcome – as in the case above where we’re assessing how we view ourselves – our brain automatically Click here to continue reading »”Moving From ‘Good Enough’ To Greatness”