PREVIOUS: INFO & the Brain (Part 1)
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
OUR BRAIN – Gathering Information (cont.)
1. FIRST INFO
3. ADDITIONS – all new items which do fit with the majority of already accumulated info will automatically be considered as correct, whether they are or not. Finding similar elements about a topic adds to our knowledge base – which doesn’t mean it’s accurate – just reinforced!
• When we have too little info about something, any previous knowledge (no matter how flawed) will carry a lot of weight in our evaluation about a person or situation, & therefore will heavily influence our action or reaction
EXP: If our parent was an addict, & then our first lover was an alcoholic . drug user…., & we keep dating & marrying addicts, then active addicts become our ‘drug-of-choice’!
👁🗨 DUALITY – AND what if we encounter a situation or person that’s both a benefit AND a threat (like a parent, a spouse, a job or career, your own child)?
Because the brain is pre-programmed to label all previously gathered info as basically valid, it rejects anything that doesn’t fit — precisely to reduce the pressure of this kind of dilemma, called ‘cognitive dissonance’.
• This makes it very hard for us as adults to leave bad situations where we get or got some good stuff – emotional crumbs – along with mostly bad stuff, the same way we did as kids, like needing :
— to leave : a sibling we were once close to who is now screwing us out of our inheritance
— a parent to oust : an adult-child still living at home, using drugs & not working – who was an adorable favorite when little….
The ‘good stuff’ may have only been a long time ago, or it could have all been an illusion, but we’re still hanging on to memories, hopes & wishes!
4. COMPARISONS – The brain can’t measure anything directly, but rather using some pre-set standard, will compare various things, actions, people, events… If the standard is flawed, our evaluation will be off!
EXP: Being on a ship without navigation tools & no land in sight – you can’t ‘magically’ tell where you are by just looking out of the porthole!
a. VALIDITY – For the comparison to be credible:
• the thing or person must be completely & correctly identified (like 2 specific books)
• the 2 things must be equal (can’t compare adult with child, a paperback to a hardcover)
• there has to be an actual way to make the measurement (color, college degrees, education, height, weight….)
• the observer is objective (no personal stake in the conclusion)
• there should not any others factors involved – but if necessary, they also have to be of equal value (2 books in different languages, but on the same topic)
b. INTANGIBLES – What about measuring things like intelligence, honesty, love…? These are impossible to define because they’re subjective, & their meaning is embedded in one’s culture. Yet it’s constantly being attempted.
EXPs: IQ tests only measure the ability to answers certain Qs, not the person’s actual intelligence – but can be used as a hiring tool.
👮🏽 What cops & lawyers mean by ‘honesty‘ will be very different from what a minister believes it to be, and
👶🏼 what a kid means by “I love you” isn’t the same as when said by a lover.
c. EXPECTATIONS – a common standard for measuring performance – either our own or that imposed by some authority.
▪︎ Put on us: the results are quite arbitrary, depending on who is ‘doing’ the expecting
✓ What my high school music teaches thinks about my singing may be very, very different from how a Juilliard professor will assess it
▪︎ We put on others: Errors can easily occur when measuring others based on our expectations of them
✓ “I can’t believe she didn’t call me this week, knowing I’d been in the hospital! I would have called her right away, if she’d just had surgery!”
NEXT: CDs & the Brain (#3)