A Great Example of How the Mind Works

kid listening_to tagIn our workshops and consultations around the country, we often spend time helping our partners to see that the way human minds process information is important to those of us who are trying to change attitudes about government and public issues. Once someone has drawn a conclusion about something, it is very difficult to undo that connection, so to speak. And people’s minds are remarkably good at filling in the gaps in the actual information presented to them. Case in point is this fascinating – if not totally addictive – audio example of this phenomenon.

When we communicate about government, we cannot assume that we can merely present factual information and expect people to process it with an open mind—in fact the phrase “open mind” may be an oxymoron. People are already hardwired with stereotypes, myths, images, etc. that lead them to rapidly draw conclusions about any given topic, including government. We have to use our best cognitive science insights to quickly trigger the right kind of thinking. Once we allow people to use their defaults to fill in the blanks on a topic—especially when that topic is government—we’ll be facing a very steep uphill climb.


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