A person only hears what they want to hear, Bruce opined.
Forty years later, in 2006, an academic study codified Bruce’s observation.
Researchers placed subjects of the study in an MRI machine to monitor their brain activity.
The subjects then listened to positive and negative remarks about their preferred political candidates in the 2004 presidential election between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry.
How the subjects’ brains responded depended on whether they agreed or disagreed with the remarks. Republicans preferred positive remarks about Bush, while Democrats favored positive remarks about Kerry, and vice versa.
Nothing new here.
Yet, it was how the subjects’ brains responded that was so revealing.
Put another way, when people hear information they disagree with, particularly in the political context, their brains won’t absorb and process the information.
Bruce called this his “ear of the beholder” philosophy; nowadays, it’s known as cognitive dissonance.
With the 2020 presidential election drawing near, it’s worth taking note of this blind spot.
None of us are immune to it, and it can’t be cured.
But knowing it’s at work is one antidote to mitigate its effects.
John J. Maxfield, editor in chief of Bank Director