DWIVEDI: From sports to politics, our brains are wired for tribalism

Brock University Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Veena Dwivedi wrote a piece published Thursday, June 6 in The Conversation about the way people act when they believe they’re part of a ‘team.’

Dwivedi writes:

Our neural hardware responds differently when we perceive people to be on “our team” (in-group membership). This hard-wiring allows for positive biases for members of our group, helping them, and us, survive — a clear evolutionary advantage.

My father, who came to Canada from India, loved watching hockey. Hockey Night in Canada was always on TV, whether we were home on a Saturday night or at someone’s house for dinner. His big jump — “SCORE!” — was a highlight. His contagious exuberance about the game gave life to us all. So you could say rooting for the Habs is a great memory that I’m hanging on to.

Our limbic system — our “emotional brain” — contains the hippocampus, the neural structure responsible for our memory. Those childhood connections between pleasure and pride are deep-seated in my identity. And those memories are not just about being a Montrealer.

I know it makes no logical sense to care about the Habs, 35 years after those Cup parades. But because I know which part of my brain cares about the Habs, I can rise above my limbic system and use my pre-frontal cortex to reflect about what I’m actually doing.

Continue reading the full article here.

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