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Our Brains Automatically Process Opinions We Agree With As If They Are Facts

As an old man who is often puzzled by popular trends this study proved very enlightening. I had put a lot of my confusion off to a generational gap. I make no pretense of understanding many of the Millennials’ traits. But it seems that I was stumped by a  truth relevant to all generations not just the younger one.

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Summary: A new study reveals we quickly process opinions we agree with as facts, even if the opinion is non-factual.

In this post-truth world of alternative facts, there is understandable interest in the psychology behind why people are generally so wedded to their opinions and why it is so difficult to change minds.

We already know a lot about the deliberate mental processes that people engage in to protect their world view, from seeking out confirmatory evidence (the “confirmation bias“) to questioning the methods used to marshal contradictory evidence (the scientific impotence excuse).

Now a team led by Michael Gilead at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev report in Social Psychological and Personality Science that they have found evidence of rapid and involuntarily mental processes that kick-in whenever we encounter opinions we agree with, similar to the processes previously described for how we respond to basic facts.

The researchers write that “their demonstration of such a knee-jerk acceptance of opinions may help explain people’s remarkable ability to remain entrenched in their convictions.” Continue reading

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