People's Impressions are Hard to Change

Great new article in The New Yorker. It’s a reminder that, once formed, people’s impressions are very hard to change. Thousands of research studies have found that even after people are presented “evidence” that contradicts their beliefs, they don’t make "appropriate" adjustments in their beliefs.

This piece also includes some fascinating new research and advice from cognitive scientists:

“If we—or our friends …spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of (our beliefs), we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views.” Although providing accurate information doesn’t seem to change people’s minds, appealing to their emotions may work better.

So essentially we all believe that we know more than we actually do. We all dig in at times and get stuck in our beliefs. Knowing that it is universal may help us all be willing to challenge ourselves when we feel like putting our roots deep in the earth and shouting, “I shall not be moved.”

When I’m feeling particularly entrenched in my own thinking, I try to remind myself of what the American psychologist Abraham Maslow once famously said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” May we all look for other instruments and strategies to put in our healthy life skills toolbox.