Attitude Alignment

Blaming your friends for your lack of drive could be real. So could blaming them for your energy and enthusiasm and for your prejudice, bias and bigotry.

This story caught my attention and made me think a lot about why we are the way that we are. Where do our attitudes and beliefs come from? Well we know that our system, our mindbrain is blank at the moment of birth and that we accumulate information from what we observe, what we hear and do. These become our habits that are the building blocks of our paradigm of how we are or how we believe ourselves to be.

A new study shows that people tend to unconsciously imitate the lazy [and energetic] attitudes of those around them. So, you could blame your friends for your lack of drive, I suppose?

Perhaps we need to see this as a possible effect, it is not inevitable. Mindless responses lead to simple imitation. MIndful responses lead to choice.

Researchers Jean Daunizeau and Marie Devaine, from INSERM in Paris, combined mathematical modelling and cognitive psychology to explore the laws that govern this “attitude alignment”. They asked 56 participants to make a series of decisions involving effort, both before and after having observed the decisions of fictitious participants (in fact: artificial intelligence algorithms) whose lazy attitudes were sensibly calibrated.

The study results show that participants are bound to a “false-consensus” bias. That is, they believe without evidence that the attitudes of others resemble their own. It also shows that people exhibit a “social influence” bias. Their attitude tends to become more similar to those of people around them.

This natural bias to imitate the behaviour of the group, team or unit is common to us all. The researchers noted that participants seem to be mostly completely unaware of these biases.

It all happens below our awareness unless we are mindful of our thoughts, feelings and actions.

The mathematical simulations demonstrate that both biases, and the surprising interaction between social influence and false consensus, are hallmarks of a unique mechanism that is ideally suited to learning both about and from others’ covert attitudes.

This suggests that unless we are awake to ourself we are deluded by our need to experience feelings of social conformity, to feel that we belong. Attitude alignment is necessary for stable membership of any group. It is the basic requirement to make you one of ‘us’ for you to belong.

The researchers are currently applying this work to assess whether this form of attitude alignment may differ in people suffering from neuropsychiatric conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder.

The most important part of this research is the realisation that we all simply conform unless we are able to question. To act or react without insight is mindlessness. To act or respond in mindfulness. Reactions happens without awareness. Responses happen with awareness.

In mindful awareness we can never blame others for our beliefs, attitudes or actions. We are always responsible for how we respond to any situation. Being responsible or respondable is to be Mindful

Take care and be mindful

Sean x

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