Having trouble believing in theories established long ago? You’re not the only one. A recent study suggests that one of the most wide spread concepts and reference points in science, the theory of evolution, might be seen as one big lie depending on your influences.
While members of the scientific community generally agree that natural selection is a concepts that’s very real, what makes some of them skeptical is the way in which the human brain has evolved.
Religious and social groups have long fought over this very same idea, with some saying that we absolutely evolved from primates, and others claiming that God created mankind without a doubt.
Psychologist Will Gervais published a new paper in the journal Cognition, revealing that depending on what mechanisms your brain went through while evolving and what cognitive style you ended up having, you might find it very easy to believe in the theory of evolution, or very hard. It’s simply a mental predisposition.
Generally speaking, human beings prefer to be given explanations that are certain and that give off a feeling of purpose for both themselves, as well as the world at large. They also prefer to be offered clear biological explanations that are very straight-forwards and don’t present them with any unexpected twists and turns.
But despite all members of the species shirring these tendencies and basic brain processes, religious belief and cultural influences will always determine what someone is willing, even capable, to believe in and what they’re not.
For his study, Will Gervais looked at hundreds of students who were attending a university in Kentucky. He measured how much subjects engaged in an intuitive cognitive style (launching into immediate and intuitive judgments) and how much they engaged in an analytic cognitive style (explicit deliberation of a subject).
The results showed that subjects who relied more on an intuitive cognitive style were generally skeptical about the theory of evolution, while those who relied more on an analytic cognitive style generally believed in the about the theory of evolution.
The results stayed the same even when the psychologist considered the subjects’ personal believes, including belief in God, religious and political affiliation.
There are several theories that try to explain it. One suggests that all human beings have a natural instinct to reject the theory of evolution, but that those who rely more on an analytic cognitive style manage to overwrite it.
Another theory says that a certain type of individuals have evolved to have stronger intuitive responses and thus favor purposive thinking and find it hard to overwrite this predisposition even if they engage in a more analytical thinking style.
The final theory states that cognitive style interacts with cultural influences. If one manages to overwrite their cognitive style, they also have to overwrite their upbringing in order to form belief or disbelief in an idea.
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