…this is not so much about how to control people as about their needs around control. The real secret is the deep, deep need that people have for a sense of control. In persuasion, by managing how they feel about control, you can achieve far greater actual control. If you ignore this need, you might easily fall into a power battle for control of the conversation and the agenda.
Psychological distress in the face of uncertainty is no accident—it’s human nature. Jill Stoddard, a clinical psychologist and author of a book about managing anxiety, told us, “Our anxiety and discomfort are products of evolution. Anxious early humans who avoided uncertainty had a survival advantage.”
Dixon says the poll showed that climate denial is a much smaller issue than the media often makes out. A much bigger problem is a loss of faith in government and corporations, and in elites of both right and left. “Very few people deny the reality of climate change,” he says, “but they don’t trust institutions to be able to fix it. People in this group feel strongly that the world is not fair right now. They don’t feel listened to or respected.”In Dixon’s view, that is why any narrative of emergency, or of the massive scale of the crisis, only reinforces this group’s feelings of lack of agency, and does not motivate people to act. What does resonate are ideas about taking back control.
The point is not to venerate disorders through their connection to the arts—I would never do that—but to suggest the primal experience of human existence is a loss of control, rather than a default of stability.
Conspiracy beliefs often proliferate after unexpected or tragic events like these because they help people explain away or diminish feelings of lack of control, chaos, or uncontrolled risks.
Such effects could be detrimental—exposure to conspiracy theories has been found to reduce people’s intentions to take action to protect themselves from communicable disease.
Public health officials and other communicators should therefore conduct experimental trials to ensure that information campaigns are not counterproductive.
Almost all of Nassim Taleb’s work is about how humans misunderstand the behavior of complex systems. His first book, Fooled by Randomness, is a great introduction that shows how humans tend to explain outcomes that are truly random as being predictable and explainable. As a result of our species evolving in a much simpler environment where it was easier to understand cause and effect, we tend to overestimate causality in the modern world. This leads us to think that the world is more explainable than it really is and makes us think we have more control over the universe than we really do.
Finally, this explains why people who look too closely at randomness burn out, their emotions drained by the series of pangs they experience. Regardless of what people claim, a negative pang is not offset by a positive one (some psychologists estimate the negative effect for an average loss to be up to 2.5 the magnitude of a positive one); it will lead to an emotional deficit. ... Note also that the implication that wealth does not count so much into one’s well-being as the route one uses to get to it.
Scientific American: What happens in our brains when we operate in a creative mode vs. an uncreative mode?Anna Abraham: So far we have only scratched the surface of this big question. What is obvious is that a lot about what triggers a creative mode as opposed to an uncreative mode is situational.The creative mode is called for in contexts that are unclear, vague and open-ended. The opposite is true of the uncreative mode. And so the uncreative mode involves walking firmly along the ‘path of least resistance’ through the black-and-white zone of the expected, the obvious, the accurate, or the efficient. Whereas the creative mode involves turning away from the path of least resistance and venturing into the briars so to speak in an effort to forge a new path through the grey zone of the unexpected, the vague, the misleading, or the unknown.We know a great deal about the receptive-predictive cycle of the brain in place during the uncreative mode. We know a lot less about the explorative-generative cycle that is in place during the creative mode. But what we do know is fascinating. For instance, several large-scale brain networks that are known to operate in circumscribed ways in the uncreative mode are engaged in an integrative and dynamic manner during the creative mode.Examining creative thinking as a multifaceted construct has greatly improved our understanding of the roles of specific brain regions in specific aspects of creativity such as insight, imagery, analogical reasoning, overcoming knowledge constraints, conceptual expansion, and so on. Among the most thought-provoking findings is our ability to engage in creative pursuits despite disorder and degeneration at the neural level. This attests to the disorder resistant power of the brain in enabling self-expression and communication.
Under these conditions, it is expressively rational for individuals to attend to evidence in a manner that conduces to formation of and persistence in beliefs characteristic of their cultural groups (Stanovich, 2013; Kahan, in press, a).Studies suggest that individuals use their critical reasoning dispositions for that purpose. These individuals display greater directional bias in their information processing not because they are more partisan or are more vulnerable to heuristic substitutes for conscious, effortful information processing (Lodge and Taber, 2013; Taber and Young, 2013) but because they are simply better at screening information for identity-congruent inferences (Kahan, in press, b).