The Science Behind Why Other People’s Opinions Make You Uncomfortable

With Trump as President, tech companies taking over the world and the big, bad Internet at our fingertips, opinions are flying hard and fast like bullets. Social media sites are our soapboxes, and we carry them into our real lives too. People are grouped into their political leanings, social agenda, whether they are “good” or “bad”. It’s not an easy time for any of us.

People get so mad and SO aggressive when they’re presented with an argument that counters theirs. Even if it has a strong, factual basis. I – and I’m certain a hell of a lot of you – can’t help but wonder why this happens. Facts are facts, why can’t we all just accept them?

My opinion over yours

Comic website The Oatmeal did us a favour by breaking down the science behind why other people’s opinions can make us so extremely angry. They present a controversial fact based on peer-reviewed research, and ask how it makes you feel. Then they explain what that feeling actually means.

Turns out, studies have shown that the same part of the brain that launches into defence mode at a physical threat, is triggered from an intellectual threat too. Basically, when someone puts forward an idea that is unfamiliar to you, your body is reacting as if it is in danger. So of course, you panic and launch from zero to irrational.

When someone puts forward an idea that is unfamiliar to you, your body is reacting as if it is in danger.

It also does a bit to explain the general ignorance that bubbles about in our modern society. While we have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before, more and more people are willingly turning away from this information, instead holding onto their outdated perspectives of society like it’s a precious, indestructible part of themselves. Far too frightened to just let it go.

But as The Oatmeal writes, “Your worldview isn’t a perfect house that was built to last forever. It’s a cheap condo, and over time most of it will turn to s**t.”

It’s important to consider why particular views crop up and stick around. If you approach an issue with kindness, understanding and patient listening, you might even find yourself getting somewhere. Of course, some people’s opinions simply cannot be changed. But at least now we know why and can look at each other with a little bit more empathy.

Like The Oatmeal‘s comic says, “We’re all going in the same direction.” Have a look at it here.