Psychologists at the University of California Los Angeles explained why people are sure that their opinion is the only true one, while they can be intolerant of other people’s views. According to a study published in the journal Psychological Review, the cause of irrational confidence in one’s own perception of the world, which is called naive realism, lies in an area of the brain called the gestalt cortex.
The Gestalt cortex is located behind the ear, between the parts of the brain responsible for processing sight, sound, and touch. These parts are connected by a structure called the temporoparietal ganglion, which is responsible for collecting information from the thalamus, limbic, visual, auditory, and somatosensory systems. The Gestalt core integrates information from the external and internal environment, after which it processes all the information received. Scientists have shown that the activities of the gestalt cortex in people with similar political views are also very similar.
The scientists used a technique called electrocorticography to record the brain activity of 16 people on a millisecond and millimeter scale using thousands of neurosurgical electrodes. They found that the neurocognitive pathway that runs from the back (visual cortex) to the front of the brain (prefrontal cortex) is especially active in areas closer to the front when people are thinking about the mental state of others. In other words, the mentalization of the surrounding people requires a slower and more prolonged activation of the gestalt cortex, which may be the reason for the rejection of other people’s views.
According to study author Matthew Lieberman, naive realism may be the most underestimated source of conflict and mistrust between individuals and groups. When others see the world differently, it can serve as an existential threat to our own contact with reality and often leads to anger and suspicion towards those who hold a different view. Choosing one interpretation of current events, the gestalt core literally suppresses others.