How to change people’s behaviours

From Andrew Newberg

Video Interview Transcript

There is not an easy way of changing people's mindsets. It's very difficult. But the idea that for any tradition the more we can get people to focus on the positive emotional aspects of that tradition, the sense of love that they feel for each other, the notion of God or some universal consciousness loving us or feeling having positive feelings for us that can be very effective. But ultimately a lot of times it comes down to what is considered part of that group. What is considered part of what they can feel connected to and how do we ultimately respond to things and people which are outside of that group. That has always been kind of the essential issue of humanity going back thousands of years. It's often an us versus them mentality that continues to this day.
Our brain, you know studies have been done that show that we view people outside of our group as being more negative as being more suspicious about them. So there are these inherent biases in how our brain works in part to protect us when there's something that we don't know and don't understand that lights up our amygdala and it says we have to be careful. So whether we then can use our frontal lobes in our compassionate meditation and loving kindness meditation to overcome that so that we can start to think about things in a more positive way and start to feel more inclusive even though we may not necessarily feel as comfortable as we would normally feel or naturally feel I should say. Those are different approaches that people can take to try to find the way to do that. In fact, you know, part of what I feel the future of the field of work that I'm in this field of neuro theology is to see if we can find what in the brain specifically is associated with these negative kinds of emotions these feelings of hatefulness and anger and how, what are the most effective ways of trying to change them and to redirect people into something that's more positive so that they don't necessarily have to give up what they believe but they can have a new understanding between what they believe and the fact that there are other people in the world who may believe something different and how we can interact with them in ways ways that are more positive and constructive instead of destructive. But that's a tall order.

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