The Human Brain: Cognitive Bias, Social Media, and Government Politics

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The Human Brain: Cognitive Bias, Social Media, and Government Politics
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“Researcher Yarrow Dunham has devised an examination which posits why people from different identifying groups cannot agree with eachother (e.g. conservative Republican stating that liberal Democratic news is misinformation etc.). Yarrow accomplished this by giving children either an orange or green shirt, selected at random by having the child spin an arm with a 50% chance to land upon either color. Yarrow then shows the children images of other children having playground issues which can be interpreted in multiple different ways. Yarrow has found that children are more likely to interpret a situation as negative if the child in the opposite colored shirt appears malign and with malintent (e.g. standing behind a child who is crying after no longer sitting on the swing). In contrast to this, children are more likely to interpret a situation as positive if the child in the same colored shirt appears to be malign and with malintent (e.g. viewing that same image as though the child behind the swing is coming to help the crying victim). No information is provided other than the child being inducted into either group as a member. The brain takes in this information and treats it as fact, but truly uses this data to construct evidence which supports a person’s already believed bias (e.g. multiple encounters with a specific ethnicity which were negative which leads to the assumption that all members of that same ethnicity must be the same).

The children in Yarrow’s study believed that they treated both colored shirts equally when assessing the situation Yarrow provided but this is not true because of the way human beings make decisions. Most decisions are made so fast, human beings are not even aware that they are being made. These decisions are non-conscious, intuitive, and effortless decisions which are rapid and shaped by gut feelings, a way of interacting with the world akin to autopilot in a self-driving vehicle. Decisions made by human beings tend to be biased toward whatever group a person belongs to (e.g. religious bias from someone who is a dedicated Christian etc.).

Human beings constantly search for easy to understand patterns and are biased toward satisfying explanations in the stories which they tell themselves. More than 100 studies, completed around the world, have demonstrated that when most people are presented facts about a controversial issue, these individuals only carefully consider evidence which supports their belief and the”

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