A study recently published in the journal Cognition explains that some people may be more skeptical of human evolution as a result of their cognitive styles. Analytical thinkers are more likely to favor human evolution, while intuitive thinkers believe in creationism.
Did the Human Brain Evolve to Include Skepticism of Human Evolution?
While natural selection is widely accepted in the scientific community today, there is still great debate about the validity of the science particularly in religious groups who adhere to creationist beliefs. A new study conducted by psychologist Will Gervais suggests that the very evolution of the brain is the reason why the debate about human evolution still exists.
Gervais, an assistant professor of social psychology at the University of Kentucky, conducted the experiment to measure a number of factors, including cultural, religious and political influence, and the extent to which these factors affected a person’s belief in evolution. The findings showed an association between a person’s final decision on evolution’s validity and his or her specific cognitive processing style.
How the Human Brain Thinks: Analytical and Intuitive Cognitive Styles
Gervais divided the test subjects, hundreds of undergraduate students from Kentucky, into two groups according to cognitive style: analytical cognitive thinkers and intuitive cognitive thinkers.
The analytical cognitive thinker is better at processing knowledge through evaluating, reasoning, judging, and computing information. On the other hand, the intuitive thinker is better equipped to use a more non-judgmental approach to acquiring knowledge without using inferences to reason.
Analytical thinkers must rely on facts, figures, and evidence, while intuitive thinkers rely on a more spiritual notion and their deep, inner feelings on the subject.
Analytical Brains Think Evolution, Intuitive Brains Believe Creationism
Gervais found that the analytical thinkers were more likely to believe in human evolution, even when they were strongly religious. The intuitive thinkers, by contrast, had an easier time rejecting the theory of evolution. He noted that more of the analytical thinkers had less religious beliefs than their intuitive counterparts.
One of Dr. Gervais’s theories is that evolution developed the human brain to accept either evolution or creationism because, as humans, we tend to believe in sense, purpose, and order. The analytical brain thinks that evolution is the key to sense and purpose and the intuitive brain believes that creationism is the order in which sense and purpose is found.
The human brain is a marvelous creation and whether we believe in creationism or evolution, this research concludes our specific cognitive style provides a mental predisposition to that belief.