Why Your Brain Doesn't Want You to Change


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What happens when someone tells you something that challenges a deeply held belief? On the surface, it may feel annoying or uncomfortable, but according to research from the University of Southern California by Jonas Kaplan and Sarah Gimbel, it’s more than that.

When people are presented with information that runs contrary to what they already believe, “The response in the brain that we see is very similar to what would happen if, say, you were walking through the forest and came across a bear.”

On this episode, Kaplan joins the show to talk about this research, and how that instinctive, adverse reaction is the brain trying to protect itself — an attempt to keep your idea of yourself stable and whole. Oh, and Crooked Media fans should know: Kaplan and Gimbel figured this out by studying the stubborn brains of a bunch of liberals.


Kaplan and Gimbel were guests on this episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast (which was one of the inspirations for this whole season!). The paper about their study is here.

The study on how even split-second decisions are hard to change gets a write-up here.

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174 episodes