Opinions and brain chemicals

We all have opinions. Some strong some weak. All derived from experience and exposure to information. When we seek out others’ opinions we often do so through media venues we know to support our general beliefs. News channels, web sites we have read before that have tended to feed us what we want to hear and read.

When we come across an opinion, through video, or print media, that contradicts our own, we reject it, often without actually hearing said opinions all the way through. Without opening our minds up to allows us to evaluate the opposing views.

Why?

Testosterone – the power hormone
Cortisol – the stress hormone
Oxytocin – the bonding hormone
Dopamine – the reward hormone
Serotonin – the well being hormone

Here are some chemicals the body produces that change our moods. When we read an agreeable article on a topic we find dear our brains may unleash happy hormones. These friendly opinions reinforce our existing neural information pathways, our memories. Our opinions become reaffirmed. We feel good.

But when we read contradictory information what happens? Our stress levels increase. Our fight or flight behavior is invigorated. We feel challenged and confrontational. To have someone tell you are wrong is threatening.

Is it because the pathways in our brains are being questioned? We believe X. But Y seems to have some good arguments. Owww, my mind hurts when I think about changing my views. Slowly we build up ossified mental pathways, beliefs, that we continuously strengthen. When we are presented with rational alternate views that contradict our beliefs I think it actually hurts our brains. We have to breakdown old neural trails and hack out new ones. And this is physically painful. This process releases unhappy hormones. This process makes us uncomfortable.

Having an open mind is a challenge. A flexible mind may be counter intuitive to maintain. It may be that we tend toward village mentality where we all believe the same ideas and shun alternate views; strangers whispering heresy.

And it might be that to examine opposing opinions it takes a commitment to endure the internal conflict our minds experience when we have to see through another’s eyes, walk in another’s shoes.

 

 

 

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