WEEKLY PICK OF STIMULATING IDEAS AND OPINIONS
Why we jump at statements that echo our beliefs TIMES CURATOR & TRENDS
OAur minds have some interesting quirks. For instance, if you are shown the word ‘RED’, you will read it faster if it is written in red ink than if the ink is blue or green, or some other colour. Psychologists call this the ‘Stroop Effect’.
There is a similar phenomenon for facts, called the ‘Epistemic Stroop Effect’: if you are given a task to spot spelling mistakes in a sentence, you will do it faster if the sentence is true. Now, new studies show an even more interesting trait of the mind — you can spot spelling and grammatical mistakes quicker in a sentence that you agree with. “The results demonstrate that agreement with a stated opinion can have a rapid and involuntary effect on its cognitive processing,” researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem report in ‘Social Psychological and Personality Science.’
In a variation of this experiment, researchers asked the study participants to identify positive and negative statements while presenting them with obviously subjective options.
“For statements that they agreed with, participants were faster to answer ‘yes’... The current findings suggest that despite adults’ understanding of the notion of subjectivity, they may react to opinion-incongruent statements as if they were factually incorrect.”
This finding explains the current atmosphere of intolerance. No rational debate is possible unless the participants can distinguish between fact and opinion. However, the research shows our minds colour the perception of facts. We readily accept statements that endorse our beliefs.
ECHO CHAMBER: Even obviously subjective statements can seem like objective truths if they support your world view