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Beliefs are formed in the first place to enable us to survive in our social environment, to cooperate with each other, and mutually reflect and solve problems. However, beliefs differ across social groups. For example, beliefs about the risk levels of specific activities during the pandemic vary greatly, such as the wearing of masks.
When we consider the social role of beliefs, we can better understand how delusions take shape. A person that has been repeatedly threatened may be wary of people in the future, even if it seems irrational.
Delusions are often thought of as the extreme part of a belief. People suffering from delusions remain unchanged even in the face of contrary evidence. Their beliefs may become increasingly intense and disruptive.
Research shows the importance of understanding the social environment of a delusional personal: instead of dismissing delusions as irrational, consider the social conditions that contributed to their distressing beliefs.
The focus on irrationality is missing the point. To label delusions as irrational means that all 'normal' cognition is rational, which is not true as our beliefs are disproportionately influenced by multiple factors.
A new theory suggests that we form delusions to help us understand and survive in our social environment. These processes allow us to live and cooperate with people by understanding their intentions.
In a perfect world, we would use both success and failure as instructive lessons. But our brain doesn't learn that way. It learns more from some experiences than others.
Confirmation bias makes us prefer outcomes that we agree with, and a positivity bias causes us to focus on rewards more than punishments. New studies get to the bottom of these biases to find a role for choice.
Gossiping is a good way of identifying friends and foes. We are either judge, jury or executioner when we gossip — and we use the information we cull to keep immoral influences at arm's length.
Research indicates that people who witnessed immoral behavior feel better after gossiping about it to people who might have been affected. They are helping to spread the news, and therefore raise the possibility that the person in question is punished.
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