We're addicted to our own views - Laura Berman, Detroit News columnist
November 8, 2012 at 1:00 am
We're addicted to own views
In the psychological crash that follows a presidential election, it's easy to understand feelings of withdrawal. People get high on politics. That's not a metaphor but, according to psychologist Jonathan Haidt, a hard truth.
Haidt wrote a book this year to explain why political compromise is so difficult and political passion so easy. He explains that we're hard-wired to respond to political cues emotionally and intuitively. In one scientific experiment, extreme partisans showed pleasure receptors were activated in their brains when shown slides that restored confidence in "their" candidate.
"The partisan brain has been reinforced so many times for performing mental contortions that free it from unwanted beliefs. Extreme partisanship may be literally addictive," he writes, describing how reason is typically deployed after we've made up our minds: It's the tool we use to justify our beliefs and to attempt to convince others .
But after an election that bombarded us all with robocalls, confusing charges and countercharges, and images of smiling people of integrity who care about women and children, we've learned these five lessons: