Feeling united - Deepstash

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Why We’re Patriotic

Feeling united

Feeling united

Patriotism is an inborn human sentiment and part of a subconscious drive toward group bonding and allegiance. According to some recent studies, patriotism is in our genes.

But this allegiance is not always a warm feeling of connection. Sometimes the bond with a group serves as a powerful wedge to single out those who are different. Sometimes what makes us feel connected is not a love of country but a common enemy.

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Perspective-taking

It involves being able to see the point of view of someone you usually consider to be part of an outgroup.

Research finds that being able to offer another point of view - especially if you're part of the outgroup - can be just as important to social change as perspective-taking.

Bridging differences

Both perspective-taking and perspective-giving are powerful tools to help negotiate differences, particularly between groups of different power dynamics.

Empathy isn’t enough

Although similar, perspective-taking is not the same as empathy. Empathy falls short in trying to reduce polarization. In fact, empathy appeared to make things worse.

We tend to feel empathy more towards people like us, that we can relate to. If an outgroup attacks an ingroup, the empathic concern doesn't help.

Social ambiguity
Social ambiguity

Social life can be full of uncertainty. Friends don't always smile back at you. Strangers sometimes look upset. The question is how you interpret these situations. Do you take everything personally or do you think there are reasons they behave that way that has nothing to do with you?

While most people tend to overcome socially ambiguity with ease, knowing it is unavoidable, other people tend to see themselves as perpetual victims. They believe that one's life is entirely under the control of forces outside one's self.

The victimhood mindset

Researchers found the tendency for interpersonal victimhood consists of four main dimensions:

  • Always seeking recognition for one's victimhood: Those who score high on this dimension have a constant need to have their suffering acknowledged. It is also normal for victims to want the perpetrators to take responsibility for their wrongdoing.
  • Moral elitism: Those who score high on this dimension perceive themselves as having perfect morality while viewing everyone else as immoral. They view themselves as persecuted, vulnerable and morally superior.
  • Lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others: People who score high on this dimension are so preoccupied with their own victimhood that they are unaware of the pain and suffering of others.
  • Frequently thinking of past victimization: Those scoring high on this dimension continuously think about their interpersonal offences and their causes and consequences rather than about possible solutions.
Mindset and self-image in interpersonal conflicts

In interpersonal conflict, all parties are motivated to maintain a positive moral self-image. However, different parties are likely to create very different subjective realities. Offenders tend to downplay the severity of the transgression, and victims tend to perceive the offenders' motivations as immoral.

The mindset one develops - as a victim or a perpetrator - affects the way the situation is perceived and remembered.

Love sets the stage
Love sets the stage

When a loving mother holds the newborn baby in her arms for the first time, she intuitively knows to care for the child. A relationship is formed, a bond created. The child will emerge in abilities, babbling, creating imaginary scenarios, the capacity to collaborate, feel pain, understand emotions, discuss differing positions, argue convictions, until the child grows up and can meet the mother in an adult relationship of empathy, intimacy, and perspective-taking.

The mother-infant dance will shape the child's affiliative bonds throughout life.

The neurobiology of bonding

The neurobiology of affiliation is the new scientific field that describes the neural, endocrine, and behavioral systems sustaining our capacity to love. There are three factors in the neurobiology of bonding:

  • Oxytocin that drives both care and prejudice
  • The affiliative brain
  • Synchrony.
Oxytocin and attachment

Oxytocin - a large molecule produced by neurons in the hypothalamus - is known for coordinating bonding, sociality, and group living. Oxytocin targets mainly the amygdala, a center for fear and vigilance, the hippocampus, and the striatum, a locus of motivation and reward.

Oxytocin is released through the central part of the neuron as well as its extensions, called dendrites. The dendrites increase oxytocin release whenever attachment memories are used and prime us for a lifetime. Early attachment memories help us move without fear. It imprints the infant's brain with distinct social patterns.